Why focus is the missing ingredient in making your vegan business a success

Maybe you’re starting a vegan business but you’ve spent ages inching towards getting it ready to launch. Or perhaps you already have a vegan business but it’s not flying like you know it could be. If you’re full of ideas but don’t have the time to do them all well then it’s time to make some changes.

Lisa explains why it’s better to move one thing a mile than ten things an inch.

Having your own business is exciting.  You know there’s so many things you can do really well, better than the competition.  You can make a better product, have a better brand, make a better website, give better service to your customers – and because you know that first impressions matter, you need to get everything ‘just right’.

And that’s fine if you have a completely clear table and calendar, but ask yourself: is that really going to be the case? 

In order to get the things done that you need to do, you must make the space to do them, and do them well.  This is the number one reason why businesses fail, or struggle to fly. You start off with the noblest of intentions, have many genuinely great ideas but get choked by the lack of clear space to make them happen. The reality is that you’re probably trying to make too many things happen at once without actually knowing which of those things is going to make the biggest impact on your business and which may turn into, at best, an expensive learning experience or, at worst, a huge waste of time and money.

And this is important, because the number one reason people launch a vegan business is to help other vegans or further the vegan cause. And to do this you need your business to be successful.

Creating space to get things done

How much of your time is spent ‘firefighting’? By that I mean responding to other people’s needs. Under this umbrella I include all business incoming phone calls, texts, emails, social media comments and messages. All of this is part of running your business, but have you asked yourself if your responsiveness to other people’s needs is stopping you from having the business you want?

In order to get things done you must give yourself space. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget how to do this. As a start, when you have an important task to work through that is stopping your company moving forward, stop checking the social media channels of your business for a few days; there’s no need to reply straight away. Also, give yourself permission to not check your email for a few days; if you deal with online orders and there’s only you in the business, then give yourself a strict time period once a day to open only those emails so that you can fulfil orders.

Remember that checking social media and emails just drags you back in to responding to other people’s agendas. Instead, you absolutely must prioritise your own agenda.

If your vegan business isn’t your day job, then as well as the above you should book a few days off work to allow you the time to focus on your number one business priority. You should also think about taking a few days away from your personal social media so that you’re not getting distracted on a personal level. Allow as much of your brainpower and energy as possible to be fed into your business during the time you’re able to allocate to it.

The main lessons from this guide:

Focus is everything. Which idea is going to have the biggest positive impact the quickest to your business? What is likely to be achievable the quickest?

Focus is everything

You’ve got so many ideas for your vegan business, so many things you just know are going to work and help to grow it. The worst thing you can do is try to do all of them – all you’re going to do is dilute your energy, the impact of each, and therefore also the outcomes. Also, it’s then going to feel like you’re doing all this work but it’s going at a snail’s pace, so you’re going to get rather frustrated. At this stage you’ll start questioning if you’re doing the right things, and invent lots of new ideas and start again at square one leaving important tasks unfinished.

Instead of trying to make all your ideas happen, start with making a list of your ideas. Within each heading make a to do list of everything you think you need to do to get from here to there.

Now, take a step back and look at this list objectively. Which idea is going to have the biggest positive impact the quickest to your business? What is likely to be achievable the quickest? Now sort your ideas into a priority list based on your honest answers to these 2 questions. Avoid your desire to put ‘easy’ things at the top of your list; just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s going to have the biggest positive impact on your business (but if it genuinely does then congratulations!).

Whatever is at the top of your new priority list, put everything you’ve got into this one idea and completely ignore everything else. You’ve got to be utterly dedicated to one thing at once to make this work; put all of your focus and passion into it. The time for you to do the same with your other ideas will come later as you move through the list. But don’t move on to focusing on (or even starting) number 2 until you’ve completed number 1.

Keep coming back to this thought: It is better to move one thing by a mile, than to move ten things by an inch.

 

 

Test and prove it first

You should only take on debt as a company to grow something that you’ve already proven works.  Let that sink in. The first thing as a business that you need to be doing (and then continually as your business grows) is to prove that your product or service has a market and is profitable. You shouldn’t be borrowing any money or investing hundreds of hours of your own time until this is proven.

You also need to prove it as quickly as possible instead of spending months ‘getting it right’ before launching anything. Don’t work on the peripherals until you’ve proven the core concept.

So, how do you prove it? Testing. What you want to focus on is what is called ‘the minimal viable product’. In other words, you need to get something going in its simplest form to prove that there’s a market for it.

In practical terms, instead of spending a month building a ten-page website, spend a single day building a one-page website to get people to engage with your idea and give you feedback. Or instead of getting 10 products to sell, try selling a single product first and see if anyone buys it. 

Even if you have an established business, if you’re planning on going ahead with a new idea then pare it down to the essentials and test that it works first. You’re already very busy, so you want to make the very best of the time you can assign to it by ensuring that it works first.

Remain fluid about where your journey may take you

Barely any business ends up (or finds success) where you first planned it to. That’s why it’s so important to accept and create fluidity in your business, ideas, product and way of working; this applies for start-ups and established businesses alike.

Just because you’ve got a great idea doesn’t mean it’s going to work; but on your journey you may discover an idea which supersedes it. So, you’ve got to be aware of this and open to it, as well as willing to embrace change.

When you spend a lot of time planning your business or new idea, you can become overly attached to it. So, if you’re busy creating a business plan then it’s important to remember that the only people who want to see a 20-page business plan are a bank. They’re of no use to you as a business. In fact, they can act as shackles if you allow them to. Don’t spend so much time planning your business that you’re unwilling to be fluid with its forward movement – you’ll suffocate it. Your business should an organic thing; allow it to move and grow and find its own way, and respond to the market’s needs, rather than constantly trying to push it back into the box you created for it before it took its first breath.

Yet you shouldn’t abandon planning altogether; it’s an important stage of creating and re-creating your vision in any phase of your business. So instead, create a one-page route map of what you’re going to do and when. Make it visual if you can – this makes it come to life, and it’s going to seem much more manageable and feed right back into your priorities for focus. A simpler route map like this allows you to be open to taking a direction towards an outcome rather than be rigid in what you’re setting out to achieve.

I also can’t overstate how much of a positive difference it makes having someone external holding you to account. In business it’s incredibly motivating to having someone say to you regularly: “You said you were going to do this; have you done it?” So, if you haven’t got a business mentor who can fulfil this role for you, then find your most bullying friend or family member and ask them to keep you on your toes. It’s more difficult to miss deadlines and not reach goals if somebody is going to make you answer for it and face some truths. Even if you find it embarrassing or annoying, you’re definitely going to thank them for it later.

Final thoughts:

If you try to do everything, you will do it badly.

Be selective and prioritise what you’re going to do. Focus entirely on one thing at once and create the space to get things done. Don’t spend too long (or a lot of money) on anything until you’ve tested and proven that it works and there’s a market for it. Don’t get lost in making a business plan and don’t stick rigidly to anything just because it was part of your original idea. Do make a short route map and then allow it to morph and alter according to business and market needs, and ensure that you’re accountable to someone other than just yourself for making it all happen. Stop delaying and don’t get lost in the potentially irrelevant details. Be excited, have fun with it, and make it happen!

Please add your own comment:

4 comments on “Why focus is the missing ingredient in making your vegan business a success

  1. 23h
    Great article Lisa. Really helpful and gave me the motivation to focus on writing posts for my new blog Easy to drift at the moment with the lockdown enforcing business closure. ??

  2. Fantastic advice! It’s so easy to get caught up in the firefighting and lose sight of your big goals! I find that by setting (and reviewing!) weekly and monthly goals it helps keep that focus.

  3. I’m going to add to Lisa’s article that this is exactly what we’ve done with both Vegan Business Tribe and previous businesses. With VBT, first we made a very simple version of the site and spent about £50 on Facebook ads to see if we could get people to sign-up to it. When we proved we could, we then cleared the diary and spent a couple of weeks working on just the site and content to get it off the ground.
     
    If you’re struggling to get off the ground then I can’t recommend you take on board the information in this article enough.

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