Entrepreneurs Should Focus on One Startup and One Idea

Last week I was judging the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards at the EO Nerve Atlanta 2012 conference. One of the student entrepreneurs presented his business and at the end said he was working on two other startup ideas the same time. Ouch, there a was big subtraction of points for lack of focus.

Earlier today I was on a panel titled Startups Are Not Businesses Like Caterpillars Are Not Butterflies at the TiECON Southeast 2012 conference. One of the first questions from a guest in the audience was a conundrum about her two related startups and whether or not she should do one or both simultaneously. My response was direct: focus on one startup and one idea at a time.

The risk for most startups is not whether or not you’ll fail, but rather will you fail fast enough to keep going if the idea isn’t the right one. Most initial ideas aren’t right, even though the area or market might be right, and not giving it enough attention means you won’t make enough progress to realize it won’t work and to find a related iteration or more comprehensive pivot that will work. More focus equals more progress which equals more chance for success.

Now some people will point out successful parallel entrepreneurs that have multiple multi-million dollar businesses and say that they aren’t focusing on one startup and one idea. The reality is that they are focusing on one startup and one idea, but they’ve achieved enough scale with their organizations that they have senior executives 100% focused on an individual venture. So, while the entrepreneur might have multiple businesses, people within each business are exclusively focused on their respective business.

What else? What are your thoughts on entrepreneurs focusing on one startup and one idea?

3 thoughts on “Entrepreneurs Should Focus on One Startup and One Idea

  1. Great advice. Entrepreneurs need to focus. It goes against their instincts but is great advice. This is the typical problem I see with entrepreneurs.

  2. Great post! I work for a Small Business Development Center and we have had multiple people come in and have several ideas they want to discuss. Often times, they want to do them all at one time, take out a loan to do them all and “get rich quick”. When we advise that this is not smart, they rarely understand until we discuss with them that there are only so many hours in the day and starting ONE business will take up most of them. We encourage them to start one, build it to its fullest, and then if they are still interested in the other ideas and they feel it is feasible, either sell the first one or embed some levels of management to where they can do both and remain sane. Thanks for sharing!

    Brandon
    http://www.brandonhorvath.wordpress.com

  3. I have had a lot of trouble trying to focus on a business in the past. I seem to overload myself thinking about another task or business before I even finish the first task or start up the first business. The main thing is to really put your effort in one place. If I may quote you “The risk for most startups is not whether or not you’ll fail, but rather will you fail fast enough to keep going if the idea isn’t the right one.” I had trouble with focusing on only one business in general, but after writing down some tips for myself and posting it on my blog, it made it a lot easier to follow the steps. Thank you for the post!

    Dino

    http://entrepreneurtobe.wordpress.com/

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