Business Mastery

You don’t become a master by learning how to do 10,000 different things. You become a master by doing a few important things 10,000 times.

That’s not just an exercise in semantics. There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement.

Most entrepreneurs are unfocused. They try to wear all the hats in their businesses, and by doing so, they limit themselves. Life is short. There’s only so much time and energy available. If you want to make the most money, you have to focus. I have a good friend, an absolutely brilliant guy, who could be making millions of dollars… and he should be. He’s certainly made a lot of money in the past, but he has no focus whatsoever. He wants to wear all the hats in his business.

By repeatedly doing a few things instead of everything, you can master those things. I believe in delegating weaknesses rather than trying to improve them. Personally, I’m only good at a couple of things; I’ve got other people who are strong in all of the areas I’m weak in. For example: my wife ran our main company for its first 14 years. I’m an entrepreneur, a salesman. I did all the marketing and advertising while she ran things day-to-day. If I had tried to do it, the business would have fallen apart years ago.

It’s all a matter of focus. Here’s a good example to help you grasp the concept: on a sunny day, you can go outside and get a good sunburn in an hour or so. That’s about it. But if you take a magnifying glass and hold it for any length of time over a piece of paper, you can burn a hole in that paper. It’s the same sunlight; but when it passes through the magnifying glass it’s focused, and if focused enough, it can start a fire. If there’s no lens creating that focus, there’s no fire.

One thing you should focus on, and never ever delegate completely, is your marketing. You have to become expert at it. The more money you want to make, the more you should strive to develop your skills at marketing. Many business owners just abdicate their marketing: they turn it over to somebody else completely, and don’t really want to know anything about it. That’s self-defeating, because that’s the one part of your business you can’t just blow off!

And remember, when I say marketing, I’m talking about everything you do to both acquire and retain customers. It’s one of the few aspects of any business that actually makes money. Almost everything else is an expense, except for marketing and innovation. Innovation, of course, is anything that you can imagine to improve your business, make it run more smoothly, and make it more productive.

So why don’t business owners just buckle down and focus on these few important things? I think it boils down to the fact that, again, they want to master everything. They want to have their fingers in all the pies. Sadly, most people can’t handle this. What ends up happening is that instead of doing one or two things really well, you do a bunch of things in a mediocre way. Let’s say you’re trying to keep the books, so you’re working with the accountant on all the tax issues… while you’re also taking and processing orders. You wear the shipping hat, the customer service hat, the tech support hat, and try to do all the selling as well.

So you end trying to do all these different tasks, and they all suffer — because you can only be pulled in so many different directions. Whereas if you focus on just one or two things, you can shine. One of those things should always be marketing. Now, be careful here: even when focusing on one subject, some people want everything figured out before they ever begin. They end up either becoming overwhelmed and never get started, or learn just a little about many different things, never developing enough depth of knowledge to help move them forward.

You can learn these few things one at a time, and build an excellent depth of knowledge and experience over the years. My marketing director is a political junkie; he studies the political news closely, and for the last few years has studied constitutional issues as an amateur. If he tried to learn all at once what he knows now, he’d be overwhelmed. But now he’s knowledgeable and able to handle a lot of subjects due to what he has learned gradually over several years. By learning slowly and absorbing things a bit at a time, he’s got a good, well-rounded understanding of many issues today.

Here’s an example of what you should focus on right away in your marketing, without worrying too much about the rest: learning to write sales copy. Make it a goal to learn everything you can about what it takes to write good copy. Work only on sales copy for a while, mastering it before moving on to something else.

Spend your limited time, resources and energy on a small number of things instead of trying to tackle all of it. That applies to your entire business in general. Instead of trying to do too many things and not doing any of them well, focus just on a few things until you master those, and then move on to others. If that sounds like common sense, remember what Mark Twain said in the 1800s: “Common sense is a very uncommon thing.” It’s even truer now than it was in his day.