May 8, 2010

How to do more with less? Focus

Recessions force companies to reset, and do more with less.  As business declines companies have to reduce their staff, improve their efficiencies and even change their business models to remain competitive.  This isn’t a choice; it’s a necessity.

Doing more with less is hard.  It puts added strain on the organization, its resources and its people.  For example, jobs are consolidated and employees find themselves doing the work of two or more people.  These are challenging circumstances.

How do you do more with less?  Focus!

Improving the focus of your business has three key advantages:

1. Focus drives efficiency. Focus allows a company to organize its talent and its resources around a clear purpose and desired outcomes.

2. Focus improves branding. Focus empowers a company to improve its value proposition, positioning and brand differentiation.  It can’t be all things to all people.

3. Focus generates leads. Your customers have choice.  They aren’t looking for generalists.  They’re looking for specialists.  That’s what Google serves up in its search results.  Companies that are focused are far easier to find.

Take a page from Apple

Ok, too many people use Apple as a case study (and yes, I am guilty of this too), but they do so many things, so well.

One of the key things Apple does well is focus.  Tim Cook, the COO of Apple, commented to PC World:

“This is the most focused company I know of, am aware of, or have any knowledge of,” Cook said. “We say no to good ideas every day” so that the company can keep its focus on a small number of areas. Cook took note of the tables conference attendees were sitting at, and pointed out that most of Apple’s product line could fit on those tables. “And we had revenue last year of $40 billion.”

What can you do to be more focused?

As you consider your business and your brand, how can you be more focused?

  1. Is your target market clearly defined, or can it be refined?
  2. Do your products and services solve clear issues and needs within your target market?
  3. Is your brand distinct in its category?  Do your customers think of it first when they’re ready to buy?

Focus is an ongoing process.  It requires you to make clear choices, and be purposeful in your decisions.  This is hard.  Being focused means you have to say “no.”  Be strong.  Focus is the answer to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your business, and is also the answer for how to do more with less.

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