An unfocused light can light up a room. An intensely focused light becomes a laser and can cut through metal. Fun fact: the goal is to cut through the metal. 

Unfocused efforts give the impression that something is being done – the room is lit – yet the metal remains uncut.

This principle applies in almost any context.

If your marketing is unfocused, dollars and time will be spent. It will give the illusion that something is being done. “I’m creating brand awareness”, unfocused marketers say. 

Ok, is the goal to create brand awareness or increase sales? If it’s to increase sales, as I hope it is for every small business owner, you need to focus. 

Narrow in on the activities and resources that produce sales and intentionally concentrate your efforts there. 

I promise you that expensive print-ads will produce less results at a higher cost than building a relationship with a referral partner. Let the big companies spend their large piles of cash on the print ads. Focus your limited marketing budget on activities where you can measure the results for effectiveness. 

An unfocused recruiter wastes resources recruiting with ineffective methods. They spend their time swimming in pools full of unqualified talent. They attend the wrong job fairs, place radio ads, and “network” at chamber lunches without branching out to meet someone new. 

Their job opening remains open yet they are splashing the water and feel that they are doing something. “If I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll find a whale.” In reality, there are no whales in the pool with you. 

Get out. Focus. Find a pool full of qualified candidates. Learn how to attract them. Dive in. 

An unfocused business owner wastes energy and resources working in their business instead of working on their business. Their efforts give them a misleading perception that their activity is productive – yet the business made less money this year than last year. 

It’s not because they are slacking – they are working harder than ever before but fail to focus on fixing the real problems: broken systems and a negative culture. 

You can’t outperform broken systems and negative cultures. You must fix them if you want to move forward. A focused business owner knows this. 

When more focus is placed on activity than on the result, resources are wasted. Illusions of productivity are created. Careers stagnate. Companies suffer. 

My challenge for you is to focus more deeply on the activities that will actually produce the results and double down on those. Trash the activities that aren’t effective. Narrow in on the real problems. Measure often. Cut through the metal. Focus on focusing.