Sonder | How focus can transform your business
Find your ‘one thing’ and excel at it. Don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none. You want people to say “they’re the ones who are great at…”
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How focus can transform your business

How focus can transform your business

Hopefully you took the time to read this image carefully?
I would read it again now anyway.

This hairdresser is a ‘specialist’. It specialises in short hair, it specialises in long hair, it specialises in beard trims AND (wait for it), it also styles hair!

You might think we’ve trawled the interweb for an old photo to demonstrate a point, but no, I can assure you this was taken last week in Sydney. It struck me because there are so many businesses out there which lack focus. Successful thought-leaders continuously espouse the virtues of specialism and the ‘riches in the nichés’, yet here in 2016 we still have many organisations who can’t help but try and do everything and excel at nothing.

Even the world’s most revered businesses can lose their way when it comes to focus. Here are two real stories from Nike and Apple:

10 years ago Nike Australia was losing money and had lost direction. They were spreading their efforts across 9 different sports, each of which required 9 sets of relationships with key stakeholders, 9 different marketing efforts and resources to make 9 different phone calls every day. It was ineffective and the brand was losing its way. New management came in and re-shaped the business to focus on 3 sports, none of which were Aussie favourites AFL & NRL. This caused huge disruption & disgruntled noises but it was necessary to turn the business into a success again. The team was restructured around these sports and could galvanise around initiatives and work together to achieve common, focussed goals.

When Steve Jobs made his now infamous return to Apple, he had little time for distraction. His boardroom clear out is well documented, but his ruthless focus travelled too. The Apple APAC head at the time spent weeks preparing a business plan for Jobs on how the region was performing phenomenally well across multiple categories and continuing in this fashion would result in substantial growth. Jobs ignored requests for a phone conference, replying to this detailed & attractive plan with a one-line email which read: “we need to save the Mac”. The Mac defined the business and it had been neglected. He knew that it was imperative to save it in every country around the world at whatever short-term cost to other products.

Focus is not just for small businesses. Focus is for every business.

Yes, organisations have to do lots of things to keep the lights on, but you should do the most important thing exceptionally well. You should be known for one thing; you want people to say “they’re the ones who are great at…”. Like my mother used to say, don’t be ‘a jack of all trades, master of none’. Find your ‘one thing’ and excel at it.

By the way, the hairdressers was empty.

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