The importance of focusing your business

Focusing your business

A few weeks ago, Greg Head, the founder of Scaling Point and creator of Gregslist, was kind enough to appear on the AZ Tech Podcast. He shared so many good nuggets that Hamid said we’d need to charge for the episode.

Of course, we didn’t do that, but Greg dropped all the advice founders need to hear. 

Scaling Point is, in its simplest form, a marketing and consulting agency, and Greg helps companies figure out its marketing strategies. Greg said there’s one issue that all small businesses seem to run into that shows up as a marketing problem, but it has way more to do with the business strategy.

Greg said that startups launch and try to be many things to many people. It’s really hard to market a business like that. The other issue with that approach is the companies that grow and scale are just one thing to one group of people.

It seems counterintuitive, right? When you’re in startup survival mode, you don’t want to say no to anything. Startups generally experience the “myth of more,” as Greg calls it. Founders think if they add more features to a product or create more products, their business will grow.

Instead, you need to focus your business.

Greg said focus is kind of the f-word for founders — he can’t get them to say it back to him.

How do companies grow if they’re only focused on one thing? 

The key is starting in the corners. Greg said that’s where the leverage is to grow your business. He also said you should start with ADD then move to OCD. What does he mean by that?

Well, ADD is when you’re first starting your business. Do a bunch of things in the space and see what sticks. After you find one thing that is perfect, you move to the OCD stage — doubling down on that one thing. 

Greg said his magic trick is taking any big company and showing founders that, when that company started out, they really were one thing to one group of people. The company stuck to the corners of the market and did one product really well. Eventually, the business grew to, say, a multimillion (or billion) dollar company.

Take Steve Jobs and Apple as a very well-known example. Jobs left Apple in 1985 and returned in 1997. While he was gone, Apple added over a hundred products to its lineup. Apple was on the verge of running out of money, and it desperately needed to continue to grow.

Instead, Jobs returned after those 12 years and cancelled a hundred of those products.

So many successful founders and CEOs thought he was absolutely insane. Why would Jobs pull products from the table that could make Apple a ton of money?

You have to remember that Jobs always said Apple’s superpower was its ability to say no to things. 

He said no to hundreds of products that might’ve generated tons of money for the company as they were close to running out of it, and returned to the few core products that made Apple stand out from its competitors.

If Jobs can do that, you can narrow your company’s focus.

I can’t think of a better way to summarize Greg’s advice on focusing your business strategy than this: “We don’t line up for generalists. Specialists eat generalists. 100% of the time.”

Be a specialist.