Distraction comes in several forms for entrepreneurs. It can arise from not having the ability and resolve to say no or from taking on too much too soon or not being organized for success. More important than a good idea is the ability to execute on it.
Being able to protect yourself and your team from the following three distractions can go a long way in ensuring your venture prospers:
1. Self-inflicted scope creep.
Scope creep, in any form, is dangerous. But the worst kind is the one that entrepreneurs impose on themselves. Self-inflicted scope creep can happen under two circumstances
Entrepreneurs should be careful to not misinterpret requirements or use cases from their customers in a way so their plans overreach and attempt to solve issues outside what's absolutely necessary.
In addition entrepreneurs often become distracted by excitement that comes with building something fresh or adding a cool new features to a product. This zeal can often hide the real problem at hand and can prompt the entrepreneur to gloss over better, cheaper or more suitable ways for solving a problem. In the pursuit of new technology and bigger, better features, valuable time and resources can get lost.
The discipline to avoid self-inflicted scope creep does not come easy can can often take years to develop. Here are some tips to develop this discipline:
Write down use cases in the words of your users.
Perform a root-cause analysis of the problem.
Do a desired-state analysis.
Brainstorm about ways to solving the problem for your customers.
Test the solution's concept with real users.
2. Fragmented mindshare across multiple initiatives.
Another common distraction for startup leaders is attempting to have the same team focus on multiple large initiatives at the same time. Fragmenting the thought processes of staffers across different complex problems reduces their ability to function and deliver results.
This lack of central focus prolongs the problem solving for the projects and forces team members to make tradeoffs across all initiatives to try to progress in parallel across all fronts. Staffers also pay a high price when they switch their context as they move between these diverse initiatives.
Here are some tips to detect when you might be in this situation:
You are attempting to solve multiple distinct problems.
All at the same time, you're addressing the needs of distinct segments of users and use cases.
You're building several complex, multifaceted value propositions simultaneously.
The people who are finding solutions are working on all problems at once.
3. A disorganized operation.
A frequently occurring distraction crops up in a disorganized enterprise. Given that time is limited, entrepreneurs are tasked with not only dealing with multiple issues at once but also leading their teams to make progress.
With aggressive growth, organizations can evolve organically and this can lead to multiple centers of power or expertise on the same or similar features or technologies. Disorganization can lead to multiple parallel efforts to solve the same or similar problems.
Here are some tips to ensure that you're organized for success:
Organize around primary customer use cases and tasks.
Ensure a consistent user experience across your product's surface area.
Overcommunicate and develop shared goals when multiple teams are tasked with building similar components and experiences.