Fo­cus

Christo­pher Mur­phy stresses the need for fo­cus as you be­gin to build your prod­uct roadmap

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Christo­pher Mur­phy stresses the need for fo­cus as you be­gin to build a prod­uct

With your busi­ness launched and – hope­fully – suc­cess­ful, it’s tempt­ing to start to es­tab­lish plans for ex­pan­sion. In my ar­ti­cle ‘Re­peat’ (net #300) I stressed the need to de­velop new prod­ucts or ser­vices to en­sure that you have a pipe­line of prod­ucts. As I noted:

“A sin­gle prod­uct will only main­tain mo­men­tum for so long and, as such, over time you’ll nat­u­rally see a fall-off in sales. This is where build­ing a ‘pipe­line of prod­ucts’ comes in. The se­cret is to re­lease new prod­ucts of­ten and main­tain con­tact with your cus­tomer base.”

Ad­ding new prod­ucts or ser­vices to your mix will help to drive sales. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant that you don’t lose fo­cus by ad­ding new prod­ucts that don’t fit with your over­all brand story.

Busi­nesses of­ten fail as they grow due to a loss of fo­cus. As more prod­ucts are added to the mix, the un­der­ly­ing vi­sion and val­ues of the busi­ness can be­come di­luted. This can lead to con­fu­sion in the minds of cus­tomers about what your brand stands for and what its pur­pose is.

Branch­ing out in too many directions, es­pe­cially if you have a small team, leads to a lack of fo­cus and puts a strain on your re­sources in terms of time, at­ten­tion and money. This is why fo­cus is crit­i­cal.

The more prod­ucts or ser­vices you add to the mix, the more time and en­ergy you need to de­vote to them and by spread­ing your­self too thin you run the risk that all of your ef­forts un­der­per­form. In the worst case sce­nario, this can lead – ul­ti­mately – to the fail­ure of the busi­ness.

A FO­CUSED MISSION

As you plan a prod­uct roadmap be sure to con­stantly check in with your val­ues and vi­sion, en­sur­ing that what you are work­ing on re­mains aligned with your orig­i­nal mission.

Us­ing your orig­i­nal vi­sion as an an­chor, it’s im­por­tant to es­tab­lish an over­all strat­egy with a clear sense of di­rec­tion. This vi­sion – drawn from your val­ues – is un­likely to change over the medium term and it’s im­por­tant that you stick to it.

This is where a mission state­ment, even if you’re a small com­pany, can help. If you’ve taken the time to cre­ate a mission state­ment, you can check against it as you de­velop new ideas for prod­ucts. If a new prod­uct doesn’t fit the mission, you know you need to re­think it.

My fo­cus at Tiny Books ( www.tiny­books.org) is sim­ple: “To help oth­ers build bet­ter busi­nesses by pro­vid­ing dig­i­tal tools for dig­i­tal en­trepreneurs”. This short sen­tence, which took a con­sid­er­able amount of time to write, is the re­sult of dis­till­ing and defin­ing my mission.

As I work to de­velop new prod­ucts, I check back against it and – if the fit isn’t right – I start again from scratch. Ad­ding new prod­ucts that aren’t a fit with the mission state­ment will lead to con­fused cus­tomers and con­fused cus­tomers tend to seek al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions.

As you build your prod­uct roadmap, it’s im­por­tant not to lose sight of fo­cus. As David Hieatt of Hiut Denim puts it: “Do one thing well”. If you fo­cus on do­ing that your cus­tomers trust in your brand will grow and you’ll find your­self reap­ing the re­wards.

Hiut Denim is fo­cused on one thing: denim. This fo­cus is en­cap­su­lated in its mission to: “Do one thing well”

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