There’s a scene in the movie “The Last Samurai” that I absolutely love; in this scene, Tom Cruise keeps getting beat by a swordsman in training. His friend approaches him and says, “Please forgive; too many mind… mind the sword, mind the people watch, mind enemy – -too many mind.”
The lesson learned: when you focus on too many things at once, you cannot accomplish your objective.
Similarly, to succeed in startups, you must have a laser-like focus on an objective in order to accomplish it. But for many entrepreneurs, including myself, it is difficult to focus only on one idea.
The other day I had the itch to start a dog-running business where I take neighborhood dogs out for a run during the day and charge by the hour. I have no doubt that the business would succeed, but I decided against it because I need to focus on my current projects.
The question boils down to the following for first time entrepreneurs: How do I know which startup idea to pursue?
Why friction prevents would-be entrepreneurs from succeeding
Friction is not just laziness in people stuck in a corporate job (that they hate) who refuse to do something about their situation.
An even deadlier form of friction is decision paralysis for motivated individuals with the entrepreneurial spirit that just cannot make a decision to move forward with an idea.
To begin, you must first remove the friction.
The throw-spaghetti-at-the-refrigerator technicque
A simple yet quite effective solution to remove the decision paralysis friction is to utilize the throw-spaghetti-at-the-refrigerator technique. At least some spaghetti strands stick when you throw a hand full at a refrigerator. Similarly, if you start several businesses at once, then at least one of them will show traction. When one shows traction, you drop all other ideas and you focus exclusively on the one with traction.
Pros: great way to quickly test out a bunch of ideas to determine which business idea will stick
Cons: you’re still spreading yourself too thin. When you talk to friends, co-workers, and other entrepreneurs for feedback, which business idea are you going to talk to them about? Pitching several ideas instead of just one shows that you’re fragmented and not fully committed, which may be a turn off to investors and people who can potentially connect you with customers.
Find THE alignment to remove friction
The basis of my alignment originates from Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great. In the book, Jim describes the Hedgehog Concept is the intersection of the following three principles:
- What is the business the best in the world at?
- What is the business deeply passionate about?
- What drives the business economic engine?
To choose a business idea and remove friction, a first-time entrepreneur should find the alignment of the following three principles:
- What can you be the best in the world at?
- Who is in your trusted network right now?
- How can you make money right now?
I intentionally removed passion because I believe an entrepreneur can be passionate about the people he works with, the value he brings to his clients or customers, and the success that he achieves.
What can you be the best in the world at: start a business where you have an established expertise. It’s important to be great at your work so that customers stay loyal and people know you for your great work.
Who is in your trusted network right now: don’t go after a market where you don’t have a network. If you do, you’re starting the sales process from scratch; therefore, instead of immediately closing deals from the get go, you end up having to build relationships which can take several months and kill your cash flow and team moral.
How can you make money right now: I operate under the philosophy that cash is king. Don’t make your business about raising funding, getting users, and then hopefully finding a way to make money some day.
Step one in entrepreneurship is to find the motivation to start your business. The motivation is great, but equally important is step two: remove the barriers that are blocking you from starting your business.
Find your alignment to remove the barriers and get started!
Jun Loayza is the President of Lion Step Media. In his entrepreneurial experience, Jun has sold 2 internet companies and lead social media technology campaigns for Sephora, Whole Foods Market, Levi’s, LG, and Activision.