Focus

Ryan Caldbeck is on fire Twitter at the moment. Over the weekend he set up a excellent diagram-oriented tweetstorm with a whole lot of gems in it.

Focus. It is among the most frequent topics of conversation with startups, at board meetings, in pitches, etc.. Everybody wants to succeed at everything, right now, so there’s always a tendency to do more. Saying yes is simple; saying no is tough. Saying yes means opportunity cost (which can be somewhat harder to internalize)

As broad as it might look, the USV investment thesis is all about focus. Through time, that focus has a) helped us develop a profound experience and specialization in a particular type of business / investment and b) saved us lots of time making it easy to say no to lots of stuff. Today, we’re seeing a new round of that sort of focus — I’m particularly mindful of it in areas like crypto/blockchain, where the groups/funds which are hyper-focused in the area and hyper participated are far ahead in terms of their learning and community.

This is as true for people as it is for businesses. Here, it is maybe even harder. Who do I wish to become? What is going to get me there? Closing off any possible door is painful. But on the flip side, slowly progressing along several fronts is a recipe for you nowhere.

So as to have focus you must have conviction. That the thing you’re focusing on, while not being what , is enough of something to chew on for a very long time — and is significant enough something that if you truly succeed at it you will accomplish what you would like to accomplish.

It’s really hard, but experience and repeated observations say that it is crucial.

2 comments

  1. That is an arbitrary number that says you should not be 100% focused on one thing but 80 percent (arbitrary once again) on the one thing but disperse some time around (20%) on other things. Why? Because you don’t need all your eggs in one basket no matter how tempting it might be. By spending time on other things it allows you to hedge for the future and have plan b. And several times you find out (as I have many times) the plan b’s would be the thing which lets you not be sitting with nothing to do when the tide goes out.

  2. I believe this is where I went wrong as a creator so far. Been told to concentrate so many times it has becoeb a cliche .But sometimes you really have 20 different ground breaking ideas that will lose their freshness if you wait .The real secret is somehow let’s some people stay ultra creative and build infrastructure of execution that is much more focused.

    In my opinion 1:1 ratio of startup to ideas is obsolete and inefficient.

    One of the great things is that once you reach a certain size you can do a bunch of items at once

    But It’s hard to do it before then

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