If you want to build a successful business, you’re going to do battle with the demons of distraction. The world’s most successful people are those who have streamlined their lives to a seamless flow of productivity and focus.
What’s their secret?
It’s a matter of focus, and it’s critical to business success. An entrepreneur is only as successful as the person’s ability to focus on the most important objective in the solar system: Building his or her new business.
Possessing an astonishing level of focus comes down to simple devotion to a few ideals, and a few knacks for productivity. Here’s what you need to know:
Get every question back to revenue.
How do you slay the profit-killing, focus-destroying distractions that can chew up your business and spit it out? The secret lies in turning every conversation and issue back to a core feature: Revenue.
This is one lesson that I learned early on in my startup adventure. I thought that funding was the most important thing. I learned, by contrast, that it’s never too early to start making money. Revenue, as it turned out, was one of the core reasons we started the business. Why didn’t we start making it sooner?
Once you focus on revenue, it brings all the distracting details into focus.
- “Let’s launch a new product.” Will it help revenue?
- “What about SEO?” Will it help revenue?
- “Will this scale?” Rather, will it help revenue?
- “Let’s hire a new programmer.” Will it help revenue?
- “Let’s start split testing.” Will it help revenue?
- “Let’s do a customer journey map.” Will it help revenue?
- “We need to start a blog!” Will it help revenue?
But isn’t this greedy profiteering? No. Revenue is to a business what blood is to the body. If you want a business, you have to have revenue. The issue isn’t about getting rich; the issue is survival.
Take practical distraction-defeating steps.
“To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement,” wrote Bertrand Russell.
Any business leader will admit that the task of building a company certainly is a “difficult achievement.”
In the hyper-connected era in which responsiveness is prized and real-time collaboration is essential, how do you concentrate for any considerable amount of time?
If you take a few common sense attack moves at your distractions, you’ll eliminate at least half of them. It takes some brutality, but there are ways to do it. Here’s what I suggest.
Put a swift end to your TV addition: A Business Insider piece explains that wealthy people don’t watch much TV. From a survey, Thomas Coley discovered that 67 percent of “rich people” watch an hour or less of TV per day, while only 23 percent of “poor people” watch less than one hour per day.
"The common variable among the wealthy is how they make productive use of their time," explains Corley. "The wealthy are not avoiding watching TV because they have some superior human discipline or willpower. They just don't think about watching much TV because they are engaged in some other habitual daily behavior -- reading."
Do work early in the day.
Not everyone is a morning person. I get that. But there’s something to be said for getting your butt in your chair (or at a standing desk) before the world wakes up. Get up early, and you’ll get stuff done.
Mornings, especially early mornings, are powerful times. Lisa Evans points out in her Entrepreneur article that “you are less likely to get distracted in the morning,” not to mention you can achieve higher degrees of willpower and mental stamina.
During a state of flow, you are oblivious to all but your work; you experience a “high;” you’re in the zone.
Despite his unspellable name, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, pioneered one of the most earth-shattering phenomena in positive psychology -- the concept of flow. Here’s how he described it:
Bill Gates is a remarkable person, and not everyone possesses his intellect. But what was it that drove him to an eight-week creation session with 36-hour spurts of uninterrupted productivity? It was, at least in part, the phenomenon of flow.
Achieving flow takes practice, awareness, and focus. In order to achieve flow, there must be three preconditions.
- You possess clear goals for the work you’re engaging.
- You gain immediate feedback on the quality of your work.
- You have the skills and competence to overcome the challenges in your work.
And then you go on to experience flow, by following these steps:
1.Do something you really enjoy.
2.Do something significant.
3.Do something challenging.
4.Work during your peak time.
6.Practice focused duration — the process of work, not the state of flow.
Do just one thing each day to grow your business.
In his New York Times bestseller, Essentialism, Greg McKeown explains the power of essentialism:
Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.
How do you harness the atomic power of essentialism for your business? Here’s a simple hack: Do one thing every day that will grow your business.
Far too many people spend their lives working in their business, but not on their business. Don’t look at the daily mess of tasks -- emails, meetings, phone calls, reports, and all the other crap. Instead, look at the business from an aerial perspective.
- What obstacles can you move to the business’s progress?
- What customer testimonial can you get?
- What product does the market crave?
- What client can you close?
- What revenue stream can you tap?
Find one thing and do it. Tomorrow morning, wake up, find something else and do it.
In the journey of building businesses, entrepreneurs face aha moments. Things fall into place, seemingly blessed by some otherworldly favor. That moment might come when you make the perfect hire, create brilliant code, or simply invent something new.
Other times, the eureka moment comes from defying distractions and slipping into an unstoppable state of flow. You choose one thing to do, and you dominate it. You power up. You advance. You grow.