At Growthtown last week I gave a brief talk on focus and flexibility and a key idea that came up was that of rabbits.
Startups need balance – but it is hard to balance focus on competing needs, lack of resources, maintaining cashflow momentum, while staying flexible to respond to opportunities.
Focus requires discipline, which is not always a popular word these days. In a business context it requires:
- Strategy & tactics
- Key performance indicators
- Decision making process
- Defined roles & responsibilities
But you still need to chase rabbits! Rabbits are: Unplanned business opportunities that you chase as & when they arise to maintain cash flow momentum.
But there’s a problem with rabbits! Unplanned business opportunities can distract you from focusing on your defined business goals & strategy.
The challenge is: How to balance pursuit of opportunistic business without losing focus on your business goals?
Part of the solution is an effective business plan. Because if you don’t have a plan then you can’t assess when to chase rabbits, and you also don’t know which rabbits are not worth chasing.
Image courtesy of @firstdogonmoon
Some of the basics that need to be in place to allow a business to focus are:
- Predetermine rules for decision making – input rights v. decision making rights
- Understand key metrics driving the business
- Track progress against goals
- Refocus based on results
Some other important elements that enable flexibility:
- Role clarity is key! – Who does what & when
- Values etc must align with the set goals
- Communication is important – What information must be shared & what information is private
Above all flexibility is based on discipline. Yoga is a best example of this principle. Focused practice of the basic principles mean that after a time yoga adherents are highly flexible, even more important they are strong. And that is what we want for our businesses.