There is no shortage of opportunities and ideas — shiny stuff — for businesses and leaders to expend their resources. What’s wrong with pursuing shiny stuff? It’s enticing, or at least looks cool on the outside — and potentially lucrative.
Nothing is wrong with it if you are striving for mediocrity. Continual pursuit of shiny objects will result in a hodgepodge approach to running your business, a dash of this with a side of that. Some of it works — but much of it doesn’t. If you throw enough darts you’re bound to win the carnival prize once in awhile. But most of the time the carny just takes your money.
That said, there are opportunities you should pursue. But how do you decide which ideas or opportunities to incorporate and which to avoid? Simple. Understand your sweet spot. Call it what you want, in EOS we call it your Core Focus. Jim Collins refers to it as your Hedgehog Complex, and I have heard the term Unique Ability. What does it mean? It crystallizes for you and your entire team what you do and why you do it.
Can it really be that simple? It can. As companies grow a strange thing happens. Owners and leaders feel as though this growth requires adding layers of complexity to running their business. A “more is better” mindset corrupts even the best intentions and leaders get caught up chasing shiny objects. Anchoring back to your Core Focus will help you and your leadership team (and eventually your entire team) understand your sweet spot as a business. Your Core Focus has two parts: your Purpose and your Niche.
Your Purpose (some companies prefer Cause or Passion — like ours) is your why. Why do you do what you do? Do you help people? Or want to change the world? Maybe grow a great company? Our Passion at Orchard Corset is “Generate and spread awesomeness!” Your company’s purpose should be bigger than you — and not specific to any industry. Why did you start this business? The answer could evolve over time as you develop and mature as an organization. Spend the necessary time to wordsmith your choice. You want your Purpose/Cause/Passion to be understood and shared by all in your organization.
Your Niche is what you do. This needs to be specific enough to have teeth, but not so specific that you pigeonhole your business into a tiny box. Perhaps your Niche is to solve complex real estate problems for investors. Or provide customized print and copy solutions to small businesses. At Orchard Corset, we are “The best OTR (off-the-rack) corset company in the world. PERIOD!”
To the degree that you define the elements of your Core Focus will also be the degree that you will have everyone rowing in the same direction. (The sun is powerful, but think about what happens when you focus that power through a laser beam.) Your Core Focus, coupled with understanding your “ideal customer” or target audience, will give you absolute clarity to properly assess the ‘shiny stuff’ when it pops up. We review our Core Focus annually and make adjustments only when needed.
How does your Core Focus help you assess ‘shiny stuff’? Your Core Focus acts as a filter. Does this great new idea or opportunity align with your Core Focus and benefit your target audience? If the answer is yes, pursue the opportunity diligently. If the answer is no, toss it over the fence. I can tell you from experience, looking at bright and shiny objects this way takes the emotion out of decision-making and you will make better choices. Know your sweet spot and let it be your guide.
Cheri Dudek-Kuhn is a leadership enthusiast and CEO at Orchard Corset. Read her leadership blogs at cheridudek.com/category/latest-news.