Neil Mitchell on Why Finding Focus Matters in Entrepreneurship 


Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you that starting a business is akin to an endurance race like a marathon or an Ironman. It is painful and wonderful, requires resolve and preparation, diligence and perseverance and a steadfast commitment to make things happen and to get things done. 

The foundational driving factor for success is the ability to focus and avoid the distractions of “shiny” objects. 

Distractions reign supreme in the world of ‘start-ups’. Time is money, the need to quickly find product market fit and a growing source of recurring revenue is mission critical. The ‘shiny’ object distractions arise from the many hypotheses and the numerous pivots that many ‘start-ups’ endure. Such distractions will happen and often are an unavoidable part of the ‘start-up’ life cycle. It is important to identify and dismiss these inevitable distractions quickly to preserve capital, find product market fit and achieve profitable revenue growth. 

According to an article in Inc., entrepreneurs can find themselves weighed down by needless nit-picking and pointless busywork. Data speaks volumes in support of this point. For example, 74% of business owners admitted that reconciling expenses kept them from doing necessary business-building activities. On average, business owners spend 40% of their workday on time-wasting tasks that don’t build the company. 

“The logic is fairly straightforward,” notes Co-Founder, Investor and Advisor to early and emerging stage ventures Neil Mitchell. “There is a major difference between productivity and being ‘busy’. If what you are doing does not quickly lead to a growing source of monthly recurring revenue, if you are simply engaged in tasks to give yourself the illusion of activity, then realise it and stop it.”

So much of business, Mitchell points out, is knowing yourself, identifying your weaknesses and strengths, and your willingness to focus on the strengths and avoid the allure of fixing one’s weaknesses. 

“For the ‘start-up’ founder, it is hard to figure out what to avoid and, what to embrace as a focus. Having experienced, professional advisors and mentors – those who have been there and done it – to provide perspective, wisdom, insights and support to the ‘start-up’ founder is invaluable.  Given the limited capital on hand the goal is to shorten the inevitable amount of time spent chasing ‘shiny’ objects and finding the ‘sweet spot’, monthly recurring revenue. Advisors and mentors provide a ‘start up’ founder with perspective, wisdom and critical check and balance to enable a founder’s focus and ultimate success,” Neil Mitchell says. 

Since so many ‘start-up’ entrepreneurs struggle to stay on-task. Inc. created two lists for entrepreneurs to reference: 

  • First, things to avoid: administrative tasks, some meetings, micromanagement, paperwork and someone else’s project. 
  • Second, things to embrace: planning, building relationships, clarifying values, researching, listening to customers, and preparation. 

“I think we are all, from an early age, on an apprenticeship wherein we are exposed to trials, errors, adversity and the lessons learned through the wisdom of others. This apprenticeship enables us to identify the things that are worthy of our attention and then how to focus on them,” says Mitchell. 

Author and businessman Steven Covey explains that oftentimes, strategic tasks are important but not always urgent, hence the pull toward tedious, busywork, types of tasks. 

“It takes incredible mental resolve to shove away the stack of urgencies, and make time for the truly important things–building your actual business. Do what really matters,” according to the article. 

“The ‘start-up’ journey is a hard one. There are many distractions and no shortcuts to creating and building a sustainable and profitable growth business from scratch. The ‘start-up’ founder needs to be constantly assessing whether or not the venture can turn an ‘if come’ hypothesis into a sustainable ‘in come’ venture. Focus is critical to achieving ‘start up’ success. The pursuit of finding and delivering a growing source of monthly recurring revenue is all consuming. Revenue growth validates a ‘start-up’ in its pursuit of venture capital funding. Venture capital is often the sole and only source of funding and the life blood for many ‘start-ups’. Hence, the importance of maintaining focus on those tasks that generate ‘in come’, says Mitchell. 

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.