Last night I was out in the backyard throwing the ball with my 10-year-old son, and while he has the arm of Greg Maddux, he has some difficulty catching the ball. I instructed him to watch the ball all the way from my throw into his glove. I kept on telling him to keep his eye on the ball. Once he understood this concept; the balls stopped falling onto the ground and remained in his glove. Obviously, once he was catching fastballs, pop flys and almost anything I threw at him, he was thrilled.
I tell you this story as the same can be true in business, and most importantly in the technology start-up world. Companies fail when they lose focus.
Usually start-up companies come out of the gate infused with enthusiasm because their new solution is going to reinvent some facet of the way people do things, or interact either online or operationally. This is exactly how start-ups should be during the infancy of their businesses. At this moment during the evolution of their company, they are deadly focused. The have worked tirelessly on their product or solution based upon a market requirement, and they have a team that is pointed in the same direction. If they maintain this focus, they are on track to develop a successful product or company.
However, things can go wrong, and there are many factors that make a start-up lose its focus. Sometimes it is a lack of cash flow, sometimes it taking on a client that man-handles the development team to deliver things that are out of scope of the company’s primary mission. Other times it is the leadership group working on something that the market may not necessarily perceive as valuable. But one thing is true, when an organization loses focus; it loses direction, and this can be catastrophic for a small start-up or new product trying to make it in today’s extremely fast paced technology world.