If you enjoy podcasts and haven’t been frozen in a block of ice the last five years, you’ve surely heard of the Entrepreneur OnFire (EOFire) show. For those that have been frozen, however, EOFire is a hot daily podcast for entrepreneurs hosted by John Lee Dumas.
The show interviews ambitious entrepreneurs (past guests have been Tony Robbins, Pat Flynn, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, etc.) to help listeners identify current trends in business as well as what being a successful hustler entails.
Now famous for his highly rated podcast and brand that generates over $250,000/month in revenue, John Lee Dumas wasn’t always the envy of his peers. Following a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq, and another seven years in the military, Dumas felt directionless after finishing his service in 2006. He bounced around from finance, sales, tech, real estate, and more for six years.
Working in real estate led to Dumas having long commutes. During these long commutes, he passed time listening to podcasts. Unfortunately, Dumas found himself listening to the entire archives of his favorite shows in just a few days.
That’s what led to his idea of a daily podcast interviewing successful entrepreneurs. The next four years Dumas would go from having had no radio or interviewing experience whatsoever, to building a business that generated seven figures a year.
Why was Dumas able grow his brand and a profitable business so quickly? It certainly helps that he established himself in the podcasting world at a time it was much less saturated and competitive than today. He also selected a niche others found value in. More than anything else, however, Dumas credits his success to productivity, discipline, and focus.
You’ve no doubt heard countless gurus rave about the importance of productivity, and discipline in the past. Each of these contributed to the success of EOFire. Yet, in 2017, being productive and disciplined just gets you in the game. To really clean up in today’s startup and entrepreneur scene you need focus. Fortunately, Dumas often explains focus on EOFire using a simple acronym — F.O.C.U.S.
It really is that simple. Dumas wasn’t successful until he went all-in with a single endeavor. That’s not to say trying many things wasn’t beneficial for him. It’s important to choose a market or endeavor that you’re competent in, or at least would be willing to become competent in. Once you’ve identified your niche, however, cutting irrelevant projects and activities from your life is essential.
You need to focus on one thing. We’ve all fallen victim to shiny object syndrome at some point.
It’s tempting to try to hop from one opportunity to another when you see the entrepreneurs around you having success in other endeavors.
Unfortunately, juggler’s law states that if you try to juggle too many things — an eCommerce store, copywriting service, translation business, online course development, and …. — you’re going to drop everything.
As an entrepreneur living in a time of countless opportunities, F.O.C.U.S. — following one course until success, is more important now than ever before. This is true both on the business you select, as well as the operations within your business. The One Thing is among the most valuable books you could ever read as an entrepreneur.
Among other things, it teaches us that:
-High achievers focus on the one thing that is most important for the growth of their business.
-It’s important to recognize that everything does not matter equally.
-While hustling is glorified in the startup world, activity is often unrelated to productivity. The most successful entrepreneurs often are not the most active ones.
An Old Story
There’s a story floating around that long ago there was a productivity guru that pitched his services to a successful CEO named Char. The productivity guru said something along the lines of, “I’ll help your team become more productive. If my services don’t increase their output you don’t need to pay me. If my services prove to be useful, write me a check for what you feel they were worth”
A few months later, the CEO wrote the guru a check for $25,000 — a very hefty paycheck in 1920. The advice of the guru? He instructed top executives within the company that each night they should write their six most important tasks for tomorrow and prioritize them. The next day, they would work on the first task, and only move to the next task when the previous task had been completed.
The Multitasking Myth
Taking advantage of Pareto’s principle, the idea that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions can make you a much more effective entrepreneur However, you can niche down even further to just one thing. Perhaps 70% of your results come from just a single action. This is the reason multitasking is ineffective.
Switching your attention from task to task has a real cognitive cost. Multitasking makes you more likely to make mistakes. Worst of all, dividing your attention amongst many tasks ensures the most important action that would actually move your business forward doesn’t receive adequate attention.
How To Identify Your Most Important Action
While many tasks may be important for the growth of your business, only one is the most important. For your business that may be writing sales letters, producing designs for clients, or tweaking your Google Adwords campaign.
There’s one action that’ll produce a disproportionate amount of growth for your business. Once you’ve identified your most important task, go all-in. If you haven’t yet identified the most important task for your business, your most important task is… finding the most important task for your business. It’s impossible to F.O.C.U.S., if you don’t know what you should be focusing on.
One strategy Tim Ferriss often recommends for prioritizing his todo list is asking, “What is the one thing I can do that would make everything else easier, or irrelevant?”
Shiny object syndrome, and the inability to Follow One Course Until Success holds back many young entrepreneurs. Most people claim there isn’t enough time to be successful — they’re wrong. They just aren’t working efficiently because they haven’t identified and blocked off time for their single most important action.
Always say yes to that one thing that generates a disproportionate amount of results for your business. Then, remain efficient by saying no to anyone or anything that could distract you from your most important action.
Learning to protect yourself (whether through ignoring or outsourcing) from unimportant actions gives you the time, space, and mental energy to masterfully accomplish the thing only you can do — the important action that’ll move your business forward and help create the life you’ve always dreamed of.