Growthink Blog

Are You Chasing Rabbits?


I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs.

RabbitsWhich I love to do. I love hearing cool, new ideas. I love hearing the passion. And I love figuring out how I can help them successfully go from point A to point B.

But one thing that frustrates me is seeing entrepreneurs making the same mistake over and over and over again.

And the biggest mistake I see is a lack of focus.

This lack of focus is best summed up by the ancient Chinese proverb -- “man who chases two rabbits catches neither.”

In other words, if you try to pursue two entrepreneurial ideas, both will most likely elude you.

And I hear this all the time. Budding entrepreneurs telling me about their great idea. And then a moment later saying, “Oh…I have one other idea that I’m working on that I need to tell you about.”

I don’t usually say the Chinese proverb here, but I give my own line. Which is, “If you try to do 2 things, maybe you can do a B+ job at both.  But in today’s competitive market place, you need to do an A or A+ job to succeed. And to do that kind of job, you need to focus on just one opportunity.”

The Chinese version is better.

As an entrepreneur, you are inherently creative. If you haven’t launched your first venture, you must pick just one opportunity. Brainstorm and write down all of your ideas. And then judge them and figure out the one you want to pursue.

And once you decide you want to pursue that idea, forget the rest. Use all your creativity and brainstorming power on that one idea. Use it to figure out creative marketing plans, unique financing ideas, and ways to best lead your organization.

Entrepreneurs by definition work in a resource constrained environment (if resources weren’t constrained, the entrepreneurs would be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company). So, when resources are constrained, you can’t possibly divide the few resources you have into multiple opportunities. Rather, you absolutely must focus on just one opportunity, and put everything you have into achieving it.

So, make sure you focus all of your efforts on just one opportunity. And once you achieve success with that opportunity, you can focus on your other ideas and opportunities.

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Richard Blazey says

Dear Dave: While I agree in principle with your premise I would amend it by adding 4 words "at the same time". A new technology often gives rise to a number of exciting possibilities. You are correct in saying that if you try to pursue more than one a single opportunity at once you are likely to fail. When I worked in an innovation hub we called the group of possibilities spawned by a new technolog, the Alpha space or the Alpha Cookie in analogy to a Chocolate chip cookie. The possibilities are the chips. The trick is to decide on which order to attack the chips. Properly chosen the revenues from the earlier chips will fund the later ones. So the entrepreneur doesn't have to give up his other ideas in favor of one of them. He just has to decide which one to exploit first.
Posted at 5:22 pm