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mark evans

One of the dangers of entrepreneurial enthusiasm is a willingness to be all things to all people, trying to capitalize on every potential opportunity.

The problem with that is that you can suffer from a lack of focus.

If you are putting both time and effort into doing lots of different things, you could easily wind up doing them, at best, in an average way that offers no competitive edge.

And if you don't have a focus, it could be very difficult for potential customers to quickly get a handle on what it is that you're offering.

I was reminded of the importance of being focused by Eric Paley, a managing partner with Founder Collective, an early-stage fund with offices in New York and Cambridge, Mass.

In a blog post, Mr. Paley offered some pragmatic advice to entrepreneurs.

In particular, two sentences jumped out:

"The sooner a founder gets realistic about the need to focus, the more likely the founder will be successful."

And, "I encourage startups to dream big but to focus small."

As much as focus is obviously a good thing, it can be difficult for entrepreneurs to stay in the zone because being focused can compete with their efforts to create a product or service that resonates with consumers. For many entrepreneurs, it's a constant battle to discover just the right offering that will catch fire.

By focusing, an entrepreneur is compelled to be disciplined and stay the course, rather than wander around strategically and tactically looking for a much-needed spark.

This is a lesson I quickly learned upon starting my consulting business. When people asked me about it, I gave them a long list of services, which snuffed out their interest more than igniting it.

After deciding to focus on a small number of services, my business improved because my efforts weren't all over the place and, just as important, customers were able to quickly get what I was offering to them.

Focus can be a tough beast to tackle. There is a temptation to do or offer whatever it takes to get business in the door.

The benefits of being focused, however, are that your entrepreneurial energy is efficiently exerted, as opposed to madly running off in all directions.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

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