Here’s the Biggest Mistake You’re Going to Make…

big mistake

Every day, I am seeing entrepreneurs make one big mistake. It isn’t that you spend too much money or that you’re stuck in a bubble and refuse to get out of your comfort zone. It’s that you can’t focus all of your energy on one business!

I don’t want to hear bullshit excuses coming out of your mouth. Your new business doesn’t tie in with your existing one! You can’t try out a few business ideas before you pick the best option!

If you don’t focus on one business, you’re bound to fail. Hypothetically, even if all of your ideas are revolutionary and positioned to do well in this world, you’ll make them crash and burn. Why? Well, it’s because if you’re splitting your time between a few businesses, you won’t be able to put in the required amount of time and energy into any of them.

Let’s look at some stats

There are 24 hours in a day. That equates to 168 hours in a week.

The average adult gets 7 hours of sleep a day or 49 hours a week.

An average small business owner works 52 hours a week.

The majority of your week is spent working or sleeping (49 hours + 52 hours = 101 hours).

Each week you spend 3.5 hours in the bathroom and 7.6 hours eating.

After you subtract the necessities, you’re left with 55.9 hours.

And if you’re one of those “average Americans,” you spend a lot of time doing miscellaneous things such as chit-chatting, texting, and, most importantly, watching TV. If you go by the stats that the LA Times gives, you spend around 5 hours a day watching TV.

Five hours of television a day equates to 35 hours a week. And if there is only 55.9 hours in a week left, there isn’t enough time left to hang out with your family and friends.

If you want to run two businesses at once and do things right, you only have time to eat, sleep, keep up with your hygiene (no one likes a smelly person), and work. There isn’t time to watch TV, travel, text message, or even talk with your family.

My mistake

Sadly, I know the stats I showed you above won’t convince you to focus on one business. Even if you agree with what I am saying, somehow you’ll convince yourself to start multiple companies at once. It’s just a matter of time.

But before you go down that path, I ask you to NOT take a page out of my book.

With my first real business, my business partner and I were making a decent amount of money. Cash was rolling in, and we were living the “good life” (or at least what we thought to be the good life).

So, why didn’t things take off? Well, we got sidetracked with a lot of other businesses, which caused our main one to suffer. And it also cost us over a million dollars.

After that, you would think we learned our lesson, right? Well, we didn’t. We made the same mistake a few more times. Financially we did all right, but one could argue that we would have made three, four or even ten times more money if we focused all of our energy on one company.

Even today, we have to force ourselves to focus because we both have A.D.D. We’re like two little kids in a candy store, looking for our next fix.

Conclusion

It took my business partner and me three years to figure out that we need to focus. It took us another three years to actually focus. We’re finally able to sit down and concentrate on one business. Now, we are hoping things will work out in our favor.

Don’t make the same mistake we made and what millions of other entrepreneurs are making right now. Two-thirds of small businesses fail within the first six years, and you’re bound to be one of them if you don’t focus.

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Comments

  1. I don’t disagree with your focus-on-one-thing-at-a-time instruction, but to be nit-picky on the time issue:

    5*7 = 35 hours of TV, not 60. And for the vast majority of people who watch 5 hours of TV a day, there is a simultaneous activity occurring (people get home at 5:30, turn on the TV, make dinner, eat, answer email, text, play with Facebook, etc., and turn off their TV before they jump in the shower at 10:30 and climb in bed).

    [That puts about 50 hours back into your week -- 25 for the math, and another 25 of the 35 hours doing something while watching TV.]

  2. Haha, you threw me off with the picture. Thanks for sharing your experiences with your businesses and the interview on Mixergy with Andrew Warner as well – I learned a lot!

    Implemented your suggestions and had my organic traffic increase (surprise, surprise!)

  3. Hey Neil – great advice. As a corporate lawyer for 15+ years, I have seen entrepreneurs make this mistake over and over again. Indeed, as an entrepreneur, you have to focus on (and be obsessed with) one thing – and do it better than anyone; that’s the key. See you at the Twiistup event on Thurs. Cheers, Scott

  4. “Neil Patel is the co-founder of 2 Internet companies: Crazy Egg, and KISSmetrics. ”

    On witch one you’re focusing right now ?

  5. Niel,
    I seem to have that centered focus on my business for a while, then I start thinking how I might be able to leverage another business off of the first. Seems like a good idea, at least for a while. Then I found myself thinking more about the second idea when I haven’t completed all I wanted with the first. Sounds like I am going around in circles, but the end result is that I agree with you. Focus, focus, focus. I need to write that down.

  6. I have always said to my friends pitching me to help them with their businesses. “Business is like having a significant other, you can only really care for one at a time and get it right”.

    Same rings true here, well said!

    • Travis, what if you have a business and are married? Who’s the significant other here? ;)
      @Neil thanks again for the great tip. I like focusing with an obsessive ring to it because it results in quality performance and better business. I don’t think I can ever give 150% of me to two businesses; either one business would suffer, or I will.

      • Yes… chose one and then go after it 100%

      • There is a place for the marriage and a place for the business. I believe that they operate in different market segments :P
        Good point though, we must manage our time wisely to not only produce the highest quality product/service, but to also keep ourselves sane! I have been running myself ragged with school, work and a ton of web stuff. It has all somewhat plateaued so I am counting down the days until my graduation!

    • Exactly… it works the same way and brings on the same challenges.

  7. Hi Neil,
    I think it’s especially easy to lose focus at the beginning of your venture because you don’t want to turn work down, even if it’s outside of your core competency. This is probably more common among service providers.

    As a counterargument to pursuing one business – what about people that want to diversify their income stream and come up with a different business or model?

    • It is difficult to turn work down, especially when you’re hungry. For people who want to diversify… it depends, what you want to build… if you’re trying to start up something brand new and then decide on adding another company to the mix, you’re really just putting yourself into a predicament.

  8. David Siteman Garland :

    Neil-

    As usual, a very honest and factual article.

    I share the pain of this one and I may share, I’ve been in the same boat and I hope this will help other entrepreneurs as well.

    When I started The Rise To The Top (and made every mistake in the book of course), I super-quickly became distracted with side gigs, other business opportunities, etc. and it severely hindered progress until I shoved them all away.

    For me, my Achilles Heel was consulting. I figured I could rake in lots of dough and provide value through consulting gigs. Awesome. I was right on the dough and value and wrong on the time. Next think you know I had a full days booked with clients and got away from what I loved to: Create content and videos, schmooze with entrepreneurs, speak, etc.

    I ended up having to go cold turkey and for now eliminate consulting. It has been huge for my business growth and again has allowed me to focus on strengths and maximize time.

    Looking forward to reading other folks’ thoughts.

  9. I think you’ve analyzed the downside of two jobs very well, but I think you’re being too quick to discard the upside of financial security.

    It’s like saying, “Hey, I hedged this investment, and the hedge keeps hurting my return. Let me pour all my money into 1 stock and get rid of those losses!!!”

    Wouldn’t hear you saying this if your hedge was saving your bacon.

    And over the last 3 years, could you really have afforded to have one speculative job? Must be nice. Don’t you think that working two jobs was actually MORE important to your success than focusing on your speculative job only after you were probably fairly sure you’d be successful. IE, you got to develop your idea for 3 years without going bankrupt.

    bp

    • There is a difference… I’m specifically talking about 2+ start ups… Creating a company from ground up is obviously difficult to do. Then when times get tough, people start something new because it’s easier.

      • Haha, getting a start-up up is indeed hard. Which is why I primarily look for others who have new start-ups and work with them.

        Doing all the work yourself is really a drag. That comes from experience, and yes I’ve lost quite a bit of money and time in doing that myself. (Although all of my endeavors at this point have, eventually, been profitable)

  10. What about people that have full time jobs? How much time a week would you say they need to focus in on their one business. In a sense it is 2 businesses. So are you saying that it is most likely they are going to fail?

  11. I have two businesses but they do the same thing in different geographic regions one in Canada, one in Bermuda so is that still self destructive? This point you bring up, troubles me on a daily basis and the reason I don’t 100% adopt what you (and many other people) are saying is that I fear I will put all of my eggs in the wrong basket. Meanwhile my wife will ditch me, my lifestyle will deteriorate and then I’ll really be screwed.

    I guess the counter argument is that I should do better due diligence and figure out exactly which one will succeed and then focus on that. Any tips on how you narrowed down what to focus on?

  12. From what you have shared through this post. I totally agreed that focus on one business first will bring more satisfaction and of course..INCOME.

    Theres a lot to consider when someone who thought “build many business would give multiple source of income”. Whats your opinion Neil?

  13. I’m starting up two blogs right now. I spend 95% on one of them and only allow myself one day a month to work on the other, writing the content for the entire month in one day.

    There is no way I could be focusing if I tried to split my time daily.

  14. Excellent point Neil – I definitely see the need to focus all of your energy on one business. Every business has it’s own set of challenges and hurdles, and trying to manage more than one is nearly impossible.

    However, as you mentioned in your article, even knowing this yourself wasn’t enough to stop it from happening multiple times. I can see the same thing happening with me – despite the fact that I’ve read, understand, and agree with your advice.

  15. Great post Neil. I love reading through blogs of this nature that give me a good jolt of motivation.

  16. Hey Neil ,nice article.
    Neil i need your help to know that I saw that there are a lot of people on internet who raise venture capital for their company at very young age, just like you . So what VCs looks into a person(any qualities) before investing ?

    • They want to know if you really have the desire to succeed, the idea you have, and the passion you have to make it work.

      • Thanks Neil for your reply.
        Neil I am passionate about a project and working on it.The project is quite huge .
        Right now creating small model of that project .It will take around 12-18 months to accomplish its small model .I am a noob to venture capital world and have few questions to ask –
        – Do VCs invest on a single person or at initial level having a team is mandatory ?
        – You have written on a post that raising capitals was not easy for you .You went to 20+ VCs. Is there any chance that one’s idea can be stolen ? If yes, how to protect your idea or plan ? (a stupid question :( but i am eager to know )

        • They can invest in a single person, but it is rare. They like investing in teams.

          I haven’t had any of my ideas stolen by VCs. They are out there to invest in companies… starting their own company goes away from their model.

  17. Well, I am in similar position because I just love the new idea, the excitement of it, the challenge of building it up from zero. I know I could take my blog to next level but now I’m focusing on the idea with more potential. We will see if it was a good decision or bad, but I do feel like continuing with new idea and putting old one in the background is better, I know I can make more difference with it. Had you had same or similar ideas when you made the mistakes, Neil?

  18. Too true. Heck, I don’t even have enough time to think of other business ideas. This one takes all my time, and then some…

  19. This couldn’t be more true in my case! I always make this mistake and it’s so annoying when that happens.

    I love working on my main business but sometimes I get inspired to start something completely new. All goes well for some time but after the main inspiration wave has passed I have to constantly motivate myself to work on my secondary businesses.

    So far I’ve managed to sell my secondary businesses profitably but I do regret investing my time in something that will not give me constant return.

    Excellent post and I do hope that people will listen to you and won’t make this very addictive mistake.

  20. The picture seems to be saying something:

    (1) to get married is a big mistake, or (2) to cut the cake with two hands is a big mistake.

    I’d rather think it means: Think twice before you “get married” to a certain business, and “get married” to only one business. For me it sounds very reasonable and more manageable.

  21. Neil —

    What about side projects?

    Say a person dedicates 50+ hours/week to their company as an employee. Would you recommend spending your off-time on a side-project you’re passionate about?

  22. Neil

    This is awesome calculation of the routine life and also agree to focus on one business. If you going for two business your thinking split in two ways, sometimes it merged & you get loss. So it’s better to focus on one business and also the rule of business is don’t think in 1st 1000 days of business that you loosing or earning money. After 1000 days you will able to make conclusion that is this profitable or not.

  23. Wow, I can’t believe how much time we have left over. I never broke it down to that level before. That was great Neil.

  24. Olugbenga Aijotan :

    ah ah ah…The pix nearly got me cracking. I think your post speaks to me directly, trying to run three programs at the same time and not making headway. I think i am going to shed one by the end of January and make do with others….

  25. Neil,

    Great and essential post. I’m considering launching two different businesses at once, and I’ll definitely heed the warning now! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Keep up the great work!
    Aaron

  26. But what about “Don’t put all the eggs in one basket”.
    Yes I agree with but only when you if have a big idea that deserved your entire attention and time. If you have small sites that brings you from 500 to 2000 dollars I think is a mistake to put your attention within one. If you create a site 99design, elance etc. certainly that need your entirely focus.

    That’s my point of view, correct if I’m wrong.

    • Well it depends on how big you really want to get.

    • I know what you mean. I can honestly only manage 2-4 websites by myself and still update them as they should be. And that’s a maximum!

      However, putting all your eggs in one basket isn’t a bad idea until you start making money. It allows you to focus on one aspect of your income and bolster it until you can leave it temporarily to start something new. This is the strategy I use!

      • Managing 2-4 websites is probably way more than you need anyway. 1.. maybe 2 max is what you should be focusing on. Instead of having 2 sites that generate you 1k a month, focus on taking 1 site to 5 k a month.

  27. Nice write-up! I guess its all about how you prioritize your things in life and business!

  28. Hi Neal,
    Please write a detailed post about HOW you focus, and HOW you block distractions. Do you use drugs, speed, candy, energy drinks, hypnosis, constant reminders, punishments, rewards, etc?

    Marriage is not a mistake if you married the right partner. They can actually help you, plus regular sex is great.

    • lol… your response is hilarious…. if you want focus, you just need to have a realization of a worthwhile goal or objective. It needs to be worthwhile…something you want badly enough that you’ll work your ass off to get.

  29. Hi Neil,

    My experience – focusing all of your energy on one thing has made me 7 figures’ multiple times in my business career over the last 20+ years. Trying to start-up or run multiple businesses at once has cost me nothing but lost time and lost money.

    Discipline – For serial entrepreneur’s, it’s hard to stay focused. We are constantly seeing new million dollar opportunities and/or ideas that must be developed. The problem with this is, as you’ve pointed out, there is just not enough time in a day to invest the amount of time necessary to make multiple businesses successful.

    Focus – in order to achieve high levels of success requires focus. You need to eat, breathe and sleep one business and there can’t be any other options – they just become distractions. It doesn’t guarantee success; however, that’s what it takes to hit it out of the park. That’s been my experience anyway… thanks for sharing Neil – it looks like we’ve had similar experiences.

    • There isn’t enough time in the day and that’s what makes it so interesting. It’s about using every waking hour efficiently enough to make things happen.

      It does look like we’ve had similar experiences, cheers to that ;)

  30. Haha, I love the associated photo! But I agree with you largely. It’s hard to split your focus across several initiatives and still do them all right. I have first-hand knowledge in that respect, having previously functioned as a Jack-of-all-trades…and master of none. I want to be a Master, so like you I’m channeling my energy into one main project.

    • Well that’s fantastic because that’s exactly how it should be. The more focused you are on one project, the more energy it’ll get from you… more energy, better chances of growth.

  31. Oh, when I think rationally this is probably true. You just killed my plans. lol

  32. Simon Voucher :

    I find it hard managing just 1 business, 2 at a stretch.

  33. Hi Neil! I haven’t necessarily fallen into this trap yet. But on a more micro level, I have eight projects that I am working on all within my business. Some days I hardly do any work because I can’t choose which one is the most important.

    Thanks for sharing your advice.

  34. You’re right. Spending the time necessary to make it successful is so important. Too many people have great ideas and don’t put the time required to make it successful.

  35. I’ve struck oil with one venture but I’m terrified of it drying up. So I’ve been putting all my energy and time in setting up completely separate income streams unrelated to the first. If the first field suffers, the others may still flourish.

    Maybe a good way of putting it is, put all your energy and focus in a project/business until it can run itself or you exit profitably. It’s not sensible staying in one thing and expecting it to produce forever (and sometimes you need to know when to walk away). Doing new things is good- it prevents burnout, diversifies, plans for the future.

    • Very few companies will last forever, so it’s important to know when it’s reign of success is over. Still this does mean you must focus entirely on one, before jumping into the others.

    • Dan-

      My best advice would be to put all of your money back into the business. I don’t feast on just desserts- I’ve seen too many businesses fail to be greedy with my profits.

      If your investment is dependent upon another entity that might fail, than that’s really the only reason I’d ever see your business model running into a 100% possibility of failing in the future.

      • It’s hard when you’re dependent on someone or something in particular because it’ll just eliminate your control. However, that just becomes the whole gamble with what you’re tying to do.

  36. Main reason for starting two or more businesses at one go, your not confident about the current.

  37. Thats right.. I see this happening all around me.. no sooner has one business set its foot. people are already into looking for new avenues.. while a lot could be done about the current business. Its okay for some people who already have a well set up company and a fix and not so risky revenue stream.. its not cool otherwise.

  38. Brian Kevin Johnston :

    I LOVE this article… and from my experience totally true!

    Same holds true for your FAITH, FAMILY, FRIENDS, FITNESS, etc You MUST have focus or you will fail inevitably…

    Best, Brian-

  39. It’s true, people somehow jump from one idea to another without ever completing the single project to its fullness. I guess the problem lies in the flood of information that we’re bombarded with every day and it’s hard to put aside irrelevant things and pay attention to the very goal you’re trying to accomplish.

  40. Well thankfully I killed my cable like 8 months ago. Boring anyway! And yes I made that mistake too…starting too many things just because I had the ideas and thought that I should. Thinking that saying I did this and that was good, somehow validated me being an entrepreneur. Now I have a single company and a single blog.

    I’ve learnt that lesson of focus so well, I’ve also trimmed non-performing service lines, blogs and products and really focused.

    This article was a great reminder and further validation. Thanks Neil.

  41. Neil, thanks for sharing..that is so true.
    at one time i had about 8 ideas and i started them all at once..and after a month.. none survived.

    Focus on one. lesson learned today.

  42. brandon alan scofield :

    So we have so little time in one day but so many things to do .. Focus right ? sometimes our ambition of business make us difficult to focus :)

  43. Hi, thanks for sharing your business experience.
    It is a mistake to begin expanding a business before establishing a stable and profitable operation. Watchfully work out the problems, including achieving a money-making model from which to expand. It’s a good idea to test-market your service on a small scale first.

  44. Pro Seo Blueprint :

    My biggest problem is don’t know how to mange time to do job and business time effectively. I am working from morning 10.00am to night 10.00pm on a restoran of shopping centre in Malaysia . My online business will be available after working, can you suggest what can i to do to manage my online business ?

    • I am in the same boat as you minus a couple of hours. It is hard to work and then try to start a business and then to actually have a life.

    • Work on it during your off time…. I’m sure through out the day you have the ability to spend some time on it. Also, work on it after 10pm and before 10am.

      • Pro Seo Blueprint :

        I see. Thank you so much. But I have found out more difficult to do the work on it after 10pm and before 10am. Because i have felt tired after the day working. How can i know to mange the time and make a change ?

  45. Very true statements. And to even focus further, you should strip down your current business, product, or service until it is laser focused and succeeding before you begin to add all of the bells and whistles.

    If the core doesn’t work well, the bells and whistle will not matter.

    • Building a powerful core is what it’s all about. Just like when you excerise, the stronger and more concise your core is, the better everything else will work out.

  46. I guess Confucius had it right the whole time… “The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither”

    And yes, I absolutely agree. Taking this down even further – single tasking is one of the most efficient mindsets I’ve ever adopted, and it works equally well when you scale the mindset up onto a business. Good reminder, and the stat work you did made it more impactful.

  47. hey Neil I can definitely relate to that with http://reivus.com. It was a company baesd on upgrading peoples’ social lives. Then we were convinced we should do company branding; take a whole different direction we didn’t have time for.

    Long story short, that bubble busted because of an inexperienced broad focus.

    Anyway thanks for reminding me to add another law to the growing list!

  48. I think I’ve met enough entrepreneurs in my time to understand why so many have trouble keeping focus. It’s because entrepreneurs are consciously or subconsciously always looking (or seeing) new opportunities.

    It’s entrepreneurial ADD, and that’s what makes entrepreneurs…well, entrepreneurs.

    But yes, totally see your point. At some time your going to have to stop listening to all the other voices of opportunity and just focus on one.

  49. I guess Confucius had it right the whole time… “The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither”

    :)

  50. Excellent point Neil – I definitely see the need to focus all of your energy on one business. Every business has it’s own set of challenges and hurdles, and trying to manage more than one is nearly impossible.

    • Yes, especially if the one you have has the potential to really make it big, then yes, it can go big…. more time and more energy in one is better than spreading it over 5.

  51. I heard a commercial the other day that said something to the effect of, “becoming a master is not about doing 4,000 things, it’s about doing 12 things 4,000 times.” This is so true and that’s why your post is right on the money!

  52. Just dream about what you want and you’ll be motivated for the whole day! :)

  53. It’s like they say “A jack of all trades is a master of none” :)

  54. brandon alan scofield :

    @neil, lay it out on a paper in front of you and then tackle it, hmm I should do it right now, I have blogging project …

  55. Kenan Kapidzic :

    Hey Neil!

    If you have one project, it always means that you have many projects, because one project can always be splitted into many projects. Thus, every project includes many projects, and many projects can therefore be collected into one.

    So it isnt the problem if you have many projects, as long as they can be merged into one (from many verticals to one horicontal in a branche e. g.).

    You can also have many projects if they have similar parts, because if this is the case, it is de facto one project, with different twists.

    If you ask me the only case where you cant have many projects is if they even have no similarity if you split them into pieces and find only different parts. But, thats often not the case.

    So, it isnt the question if someone should build many projects or not, in reality its the question about the relationships between the parts of one projects, because if they are weak enough you can split them and build a similar project with them.

    So my advice is to look after the relationships of the parts of a project, because if you are creative (and entrepreneurs should be!) you can take the parts, and boost them into stand alone projects, which can be merged again in the long run, because they have the same “DNA”.

  56. Edward - Entry Level Dilemma :

    This can also be expanded to include working on your startup while working a full time job. When most of your clients are businesses and you have to meet them during business hours, but you work a 9-5 job, things get really messy.

  57. This post is very valuable, if we work on one thing with persistence and don’t loose our focus then success is bound to come.

    “One focus maximum success”

  58. I agree, you have to focus 100% on one thing to make it best and effective. However, look at this from a perspective of a pensioner. Your company is successful, you make a lot of money, but what else did you do in your life? Is company the only thing you care for?

  59. brandon alan scofield :

    actually I blog everyday for 12 hour sleep for 8 hour the rest maybe relax

  60. One great distraction is the social media while the same social media is actually one of your business opportunities. In order to stay focused here, it is important to keep the non-producing activities as low as possible, and focus on activities that helps your personal branding, build your list and displays your ads.

  61. Single Mom Grants :

    I do the same, blog for 12 and sleep for 6 hour

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  63. Gk => habtmprojects.com :

    Fundamentally, all Entrepreneurship boils down to the art and science of deploying leverage. I would argue that if your sole leverage in a market is your available time, then you are in trouble (or will be eventually).

    There are at least two basic strategies for this — the laser-focus strategy that Neil advocates works well when you know a market well and/or have specific expertise to bring to bear.

    However, do not be too quick to dismiss the alternative scatter-shot approach as it can also be extremely effective in rapidly emerging/changing markets, or in situations where experimentation is called for (the birth of Twitter is a great example). BUT, Neil is absolutely right in this sense — there is a major caveat to the scatter-shot approach — once you find/develop a solution that works, you must be willing to drop all other ‘experiments’ in a heartbeat and focus on the profitable one.

  64. Andrew Carnegie once said: “Put all your eggs in one basket – and then watch the basket.”

  65. Hi Neil,
    Thanks for the thoughtful blog post. This is exactly what I needed to hear. How does this work with the philosophy of having multiple streams of income? Should one business be really “solid” before you start a new one? What if the opportunity presents itself before that happens? We first created the consultancy to be the hub that creates new products, ideas….but, It’s difficult having the energy, time, focus to move things forward.

    BTW – I’m a huge Crazy Egg fan!

    Thanks!
    Lisa

    • Yes, 1 business should be solid before you move on to a new one. Starting a business is difficult, if you say otherwise, you’re probably not doing what really needs to be done to make the business work ;)

  66. As a small business owner myself, I can attest to the fact that we get little to no time at all to ourselves.

    This is especially true for tax season. (I just got done with my taxes last month- what an absolute horror that was)

  67. I focus my energy on three websites and at times i do have to remember to put some work into the other ones. Two are new and one is a pg2 and it is easier to forget the pg2 but i still need to carry on with it otherwise my traffic will drop

  68. Focusing on more than one type of business (or site) is very difficult, but I’d say if the businesses or sites are similar enough, it’s sometimes worthwhile trying to juggle both. Currently, I have 3 different types of businesses and I think I can heed your advice about focusing on the main one… but one of my business types lends itself well to variants (easy copies) that are similar in the core way of developing content and gathering revenue but in COMPLETELY different niches.

  69. Great post Neil. I know a lot of ADD entrepreneurs. I’m one of them. The “portfolio of businesses” temptation can be incredibly difficult to resist. In some ways it gets harder to resist when one takes on more personal responsibilities (family to provide for, etc.) Exclusive focus often makes the difference between good and great.

    • I would actually go as far to say that 100% of the entrepreneurs I know have ADD.

      Hm, I’m sure the two are correlated.

      • Kenan Kapidzic :

        lol, ADD is more than just lack of focus. With ADD you can barely start a project, and maybe every tenth of the projects gets finished (maintaining is an other story…!). The reasons are broad, because- for exemple- many are depressed etc.

        Everyone has a little bit ADD in personality, but you must have many symptoms to really have ADD, which is in my opinion not an illness, but certainly a REAL problem.

        • Nice, I agree with the depression aspect.

          Most entrepreneurs looking to make it big come from a poor background. So the “How do I pay bills next month if I don’t get something off the ground?” question really does hit close to home for a lot of people.

          • It’s about being motivated by the pain to help you push forward. Sometimes it’s pleasure (goals) that gets people to go, but more often than not, it’s the pain.

    • Focus is what makes everything so much more interesting…. with out proper focus, you’ll be running around for a very long time like a chicken with it’s head cut off.

  70. Great Post Neil!! I agree with what you said but I also believe that when you have some great ideas it is very difficult to stop yourself and just stick with whatever your first implemented idea was.
    Actually when you have two three business running, risk of one going down (which could be because of any reason not neccessarily – less time devoted) decreases.

    • It is difficult but you need to create the discipline to do so… if you don’t you’ll continuously be coming up with “good ideas” and nothing will ever get finished.

  71. Thanks for sharing your experiences with your businesses and the interview on Mixergy with Andrew Warner as well – I learned a lot!

  72. Neil : I totally agree to each and every word of this post but I also happen to read your other post “The best advice you’ll ever get: Hang out with rich people!” (http://www.quicksprout.com/2009/12/22/the-best-advice-youll-ever-get-hang-out-with-rich-people/)
    I am also trying to make money with few of the way mentioned in the post. (Stocks, Real Estate, startups, …). I consider them as a business and each of them takes substantial amount of time. So I am trying to do more than business at a time. The results are not very promising. Little confused and not sure which post to follow.

    • Hanging out with rich people will allow you to raise your standards and change your mindset. What you’re doing is quite diversified, just don’t expect to see major returns quickly. Slow and steady wins the race.

  73. i’ve also found it to be very conducive to lucubration. i guess this came to mind b/c i recently ordered a herman miller embody chair… it’s arriving next week and i’m so excited! i’m going to be doing an unboxing and full review of it when it comes, so if anyone’s interested in the review, search my blog for “embody.” i’ve already put up a preview/review.

  74. Indeed, as an entrepreneur, you have to focus on (and be obsessed with) one thing – and do it better than anyone; that’s the key.

  75. King of Kings in Search :

    You are right and also wrong Neil. Lets say you have one business but the one business has several arms. Like Google Search, Google e-mail, Google phone. Now you are right in respect that a company like google have resources to spare but still focus their main biz which is search their money earner.

    But if one has a company and it is not doing well as it is ahead of its time one can put it on the back burner while still marketing it by name/site etc. while focusing on another biz for a while until it is up on its feet and can stand on its own. Of course focusing more energy on anything should squeeze out more juice from that biz.

    Now if enjoys building things, say one person built facebook, the same person built twitter, the same person built flickr , and the same person built youtube all around the same time yet neither were making any money but the entrepreneur knew that he was unto something great and simply had to wait until each site grew in popularity and use organically or use cash and investment to get the word out what would you say about a person such as this so talented and revenue is not up to him but how the market perceives the new value his products will bring to the overall market?

    Thus like many saw no need or value for a youtube, a twitter another social network in an already crowded space such as a facebook. Thus the builder the entrepreneur may have A.D.D or may not but is satisfied that each site having already hit millions of users per month that he decides to create something else that he thinks will all integrate later down the road. What would you call this?

    How do you build and see market dominance yet the market ignores you. Thus zero revenues but great value? I guess if it does not make money find a job and treat such projects as a hobby.

  76. In order to stay focused here, it is important to keep the non-producing activities as low as possible, and focus on activities that helps your personal branding, build your list and displays your ads.

  77. Yup..too many things can make you loose focus…

  78. I was thinking about starting another niche blog and now I have changed my mind after reading this article. I just started a my blog a couple of months ago so why I would think about starting another one when the one I have is still being developed I will never know. I think I will take your advice and concentrate and expand on my main niche befor starting something else. Thanks for the eye opener.

  79. I’m guilty of this. I’m always coming up with new ideas and new directions I could take my current ideas. Thank god I’ve got a solid business partner who’s able to bring me back on track and focus in on what we do best.

    I’ve SLOWLY come to realise that I can either do one thing really well, or a lot of things fairly averagely. I don’t purchase anything off someone who does it sort of well when I could get service from someone who does it really well. Why would anyone else do the anything differently?

    Thanks for the reminder,

    Leigh

    • It’s a good thing you have a partner who can put you back on the tracks so to speak. Even though you slowly realized this now… you’ll begin to figure it out more and more quicker as you move forward.

  80. Why not hire great people to concentrate exclusively on the second enterprise?

    Warren Buffet doesn’t seem to have much of a problem putting his toes into multiple pools.

  81. I’m guilty of this. I’m always coming up with new ideas and new directions I could take my current ideas.

  82. I’ve always thought that by outsourcing my business I could then get into multiple projects – WRONG. I ended up shooting myself in the foot because even outsourcing takes time.

  83. WeightLifting Workout Routines :

    i have no time for friends or tv. Nothing but work lol. I want to be rich no time to sit around and do nothing.

  84. FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS..

    lesson learned. Good post.

  85. Great suggestion. It’s so tough to try to manage running a business, let alone when I have a full time job. If I ever want to really be serious, I would have to quit my job so I can focus on my business.

  86. I like the ” He who chases two rabbits comes home hungry quote”.

    I like to get to the point where I feel like I’m holding one using it to coax the second.

    Launching new business ideas and websites that use your current successful site as a launch pad makes sense and reduces risk because you already 1. Know there is a Market and 2. Know enough about it to make cash flow and profit.

    Seems all good entrepreneurs have a knack of Laser focus and when they are scattered they are just like anyone else…. just being busy.

    Thanks Neil.

  87. Thanks for the stats about sleep, lol, thats really true. Yes you are right we need to focus on one thing well.

  88. While I do agree with you that it is important to focus. I am so A.D.D. and impatient that I need multiple things on my plate so that I’m not going crazy waiting on people. May sound ridiculous but is very true.

    • Hey if that works for you then great… but having too many things won’t do you good. Instead of having multiple company’s products or services …. do one and do multiple things within that one idea.

  89. Having found a good niche, my biggest challenge is driving traffic from all the markets related to my niche.

  90. I agree with you about focusing on a single business but wouldn’t putting all the eggs into one basket a bit risky?

  91. senior homes :

    Neil,
    For me, IMHO if we will relate it in search engine optimization, for example. It’s better to rank 5, 6, 7, . . . as long as it is in page one and ranked almost of my target niche, rather than having one keyword that ranked one in search engines. In that way I can spread my keywords and internet can easily find me. Having multiple keywords is better than focusing in one keyword.

    But still, we are entitled with are own opinion. Your great in creating topic. :-)

  92. resources for teachers :

    Interesting! I have to admit that making a schedule has saved my life many time. Or at least my time. If you plan your day or the whole week you can see before how are your next days gonna look like and if you plan it carefully you will have as much as you need for yourself.

  93. sell textbooks :

    Its never a good idea to spread yourself too thin. If you can focus on one company till it grows to a point where you don’t don’t have to be as hands on..then you can start working on the next project.

  94. jaja, i love the drawing, anyway there are many sayings in my country that speak about lack of focus , one that comes to my mind is “el que a dos amos sirve con alguno queda mal” it means something like , if you serve two masters you will end up wrong a least with one of them

  95. sell textbooks :

    A.D.D. can be a pain sometimes, I know what you are talking about.

  96. Joe @ Making Money Ideas :

    I’m getting ready to start another venture and what I’m doing is planning a way to do both. The new venture is a local business and it’s seasonal and something I enjoy. I have a web business that continues to grow but I’ve been in a funk lately. I’ve found that having my plate full and with a few different things, I don’t loose interest as fast… It seems to help me. I will say, though, the most productive time I’ve had as far as the web business goes is in the beginning. I was 100% focused on the one Idea and that 6 month period of extreme focus really made a huge difference.

    Thanks,

    Joe.

    • You’ll notice that if you bring in something else into the mix, you’ll notice a big hit in one of your business. It’s normal, learn to balance the two, it’s a skill.

  97. Hi! This is really well written, easy to understand and very useful. Thank You for sharing. and keep up the good work.

  98. Time managment for people who are going going going gets really complicated and the more projects you have the less of a chance you are putting your all into what is needed. there simply are not enough hours in a day. So you need to make sure your have the first project finished before starting the next.

  99. weight loss :

    Mistakes makes the man correct as we have to concentrate on the main thing which we need to be done for the business.If doesn’t its hurts a lot in our work

  100. First we have to analysis what we are going to do so that will get some points so we can choose the one to start

  101. Certainly a debatable topic!! I run my own business several of them and sometime I have to admit struggle to keep up with them despite having some excellent people looking after my assets. So yeah couldn’t agree more it takes lot of dedication and extreme focus…

  102. Donovan Crow :

    Just a quick word to say thanks and this post was very helpful for me.

  103. Hi Neil

    Just wanted to say thanks for this post.

  104. Hi Neil

    I can honestly vouch for working on 1 business at a time. My mentor has even said that. He has so much information on his website for me to implement but I have only run with one resource at a time. Your quite correct that we only have so many hours in a day to run a business. I have a blog and one squeeze page. I am constantly trying to drive traffic to both.

    I definately do not like watching TV. It is a waste of time unless I am learning something of interest.

    I see on your KISSMETRICS website, you are looking for a Big Data Engineer. Looks interesting.

    Thanks again Neil.

    Richard

  105. Interesting! I have to admit that making a schedule has saved my life many time. Or at least my time. If you plan your day or the whole week you can see before how are your next days gonna look like and if you plan it carefully you will have as much as you need for yourself.

  106. I’ve found that having my plate full and with a few different things, I don’t loose interest as fast… It seems to help me. I will say, though, the most productive time I’ve had as far as the web business goes is in the beginning.

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