Adjust Your Focus

You've tried the vertical hold. You've messed with your brightness settings. But there's only one thing to do when those late-'90s management mantras don't offer you a clear picture.

If you're looking for a big idea, you may want to squint a little. If your dreams are filled with eager investors, wake up. And if you only have eyes for technology, it's time to get a new love. So says a recent study that identifies seven new focuses required of today's entrepreneurs, suggesting that maybe--just maybe--you aren't born knowing it all.

Hopes of cutting through the sea of management fads motivated Houston entrepreneur Joe M. Powell, who started and sold three businesses before starting Worthing Brighton Press in 1995, to conduct the study, interviewing business professors at 28 top graduate schools in the process. "I'm frustrated by the noise and confusion and trendiness," he says.

And Lester A. Digman, USA Bank professor of management at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and author of a Worthing Brighton book called Change Management, Human Issues Are the Key, says now is a perfect time to re-examine our focuses. "A lot of things are in flux," he says. "Business models are changing, and how you make strategy is changing." So, without further ado, here are the seven new focuses.

Adjust Your Focus
1) Old Focus: A Big Idea
New Focus: A Clear Vision
2) Old Focus: Technology-Driven
New Focus: Customer-Driven
3) Old Focus: Lots of Funding
New Focus: Inexpensive Concept Testing
4) Old Focus: Homemade Management
New Focus: Studied Management
5) Old Focus: Energy Spent Acquiring Funding
New Focus: Energy Spent Acquiring Customers
6) Old Focus: Traditional Meat-Ax Marketing
New Focus: Creative Surgical Marketing
7) Old Focus: Major Milestone is an IPO
New Focus: Major Milestone is Market Share
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This article was originally published in the October 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Adjust Your Focus.

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