Originally Posted on AllBusiness.
If you lived during the time of Christopher Columbus, veering off course when sailing across the uncharted seas could have serious negative consequences—or it could have led you to amazing new discoveries. But when you veer away from what should be the aim of your small business and lose focus, it can make it harder to reach your original goals and cause you to lose sight of the original mission you had for your company.
And yet, losing focus has happened to us all at one point or another, hasn’t it? I know it has for me—at times I’ve had my attention stolen by things that didn’t serve the greater good of my marketing business.
Maybe I took on a client in an industry that required more research and work than the core industries we focus on. Or maybe I decided to start doing more public speaking, even though it made me uncomfortable and didn’t really bring me new business.
Whatever the distraction was, it usually took me away from the original objectives I had for my business. So what do we do when, as entrepreneurs, we see something shiny that derails us?
Acknowledge the tangent
Not all veering off course is a bad thing. Because he was thrown off course, Columbus ended up discovering an entirely new continent (though many will argue that it had already “been discovered” by those living here—but I digress). Always ignoring those tangential things that “come up” when losing focus could mean you miss out on a great business opportunity, so be open-minded.
Sometimes tangents are just that: a temporary break from the norm. There’s nothing wrong with mixing things up from time to time. In fact, doing so can make you more think more creatively about your other projects. So don’t put blinders on to other opportunities that might arise.
Wonder why it’s here
Now, ask yourself, “Why is this thing showing up in my business now?”
I’m a big believer in signs, and something unusual suddenly appearing in your business life might mean something significant. It could be a sign that you’re tired of serving the same types of customers the same tired products. It could be a sign that it’s time to expand or grow.
Realize that sometimes when you try out something new in your business, it might actually be a good thing. Maybe this client in a new industry is the start of you exploring that industry as a potential revenue source. Maybe the project that fell into your lap will lead you to a new line of services that gets you excited.
Whatever the reason, accept this veering off course as a blessing—even if it’s a temporary one that helps you breathe new life into your business and career.
Decide to accept or reject it
I’m a big proponent of finding a niche and sticking to it. So if you’ve been pulling your focus away from your tried-and-true niche, you may want to come back to it. On the other hand, if you can easily incorporate whatever else is popping up into your business, try to make room for it.
Sometimes we just need a break from the monotony, and a client or project will come up that gives us some relief. Then we’re ready to get back to what we know and do well.
Remind yourself what your focus is in your business. Ask yourself:
- Does this thing serve the goals of the business?
- Is it a distraction from our mission?
- Is it profitable?
- Do I enjoy it?
- Do I want to incorporate it?
As much as anything, how you feel about this shiny object that has your attention should guide you as to what to do with it.
We are all human. We sometimes get distracted, and losing focus is inevitable. And that’s okay. But what’s important is coming back to the core of what we’re trying to do with our businesses and making sure that every decision we make is in the best interest of the company.