Focus? Think again!


Focus? Think again!


Just one month prior to Lehman Brothers’ collapse started a global financial crisis in September 2008, I launched my sole-proprietary company, named ARSIMA Projects.

At that very start, on August 8th 2008, I defined a double focus. Delivering temporary assistance for setting up financial consolidation systems was my short term focus. Interim-management agencies, specialized in finance, would help me to find customers. On the longer term my plan was programming and selling my own financial consolidation system, called Consolite.

21/12/12 (+1)

Today, 4.5 years later and one day after “the end of the world”, where do I stand with regards to my original focus?

Well, to state the obvious, it has been quite a ride since 2008, as many, many other activities were added, including writing blog posts.

About one year ago, at the end of 2011, I made a strategic decision to offer my services on a different market because the demand for my services had dried up at the bigger sized companies (let’s call them BCs) and multi-national holdings. So I decided to assist and address the needs amongst starters and small & medium sized companies (let’s call them ADs).

So I got out of the building, met interesting people, got referred and introduced to many others, set up joint activities, learnt a lot, gave presentations, courses and workshops, and even invoiced some of them for my services.

For the record, on the Consolite side, my little pet software project, things surely have moved and evolved, but unfortunately at a below-average pace (due to a lack of focus from my side). So this on-going project will surely be continued in 2013, also for a reason stated here below.

Se faire rattraper par son passé / Ingehaald worden door zijn verleden

Even in my current AD-time, customers from my BC-time sometimes catch up with me and request my assistance. Currently this is the case. I just started a 3-months mission in Kortrijk, for the Belgian office of the US-based world wide leader in carpets. This mission, operational activities to fill in a temporary human resource gap, is not remotely related to financial consolidation systems. And I got this mission through a person I met during an Excel course I gave last year in Mechelen. So much for my original focus…

As has already happened several times to me, another BC-customer contacted me just three days after I started in Kortrijk, and offered me a six months’ mission, close to Brussels. We will have to see if that option is still open in 2013…

Being a full-time interim-manager in my BC-time, where I cannot duplicate myself for two or more customers, and a part-time financial coach in my AD-time, what by definition cannot be combined with another full-time job, I am the perfect example of un-scalable services. Consolite would be one of my attempts to resolve this conundrum. On-going discussion to work together with other interim-managers and coaches is another attempt.

Focus? or Pivot?

Focus is indeed important, as it is generally stated for all starters or entrepreneurs. Speaking for my self I should have stayed focused and say ‘no’ earlier to specific ventures. When your inner-voice, gut, belly or other part of your body tells you something is wrong with that specific business deal, person or organization, listen to it and act accordingly, quickly. Get out! It is your personal decision, so do it. You will gain a lot of time, and remember that your time is very precious. Additionally, you might even reduce some hazardous cash outflows.

Notwithstanding the focus objective, you should not close all doors by principle. Using the terminology from the lean methodology I believe you can and should ‘pivot’ yourself if such would be ‘proven’ by your own build-measure-learn feedback loop. This lean approach is usually used for the new product, market, service you have in mind, but I believe it is valid for your very own strategy and market position too. There might even be ways to apply this to your personal life.

I am not saying it is easy to find the right balance between focus and pivot, but at least you should consider it, not knowing what it will bring you. Paraphrasing the famous words of Steve Jobs, you can only connect the dots afterwards.

While closing the accounts for my fiscal year, I am both surprised and happy to see how many different customers I had this year and the range of services I rendered to them. If I had followed my original, limited double focus-path, that specific dot/moment in my business life would never have materialized.

Now, if only I could find a way to clone myself…

Martin – MvanWunnik         22/12/12

Related links: