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?