What to FOCUS ON When You’re Just Starting Out

When I was first starting out in business, I most likely did what you are trying to do right now: I watched a ton of YouTube videos about how to start and different business strategies. I listened to different podcasts, read a plethora of blog posts, and I probably subscribed to dozens of email newsletters. 

Why? I was so hungry for advice on how to get my business off the ground AND making money. 

I appreciate all the advice I received for sure! But, what I now realize looking back is that sometimes the advice can actually be the problem. I was listening to so many different successful entrepreneurs and business coaches, and they were all telling me different business strategies that worked for them. They infiltrated me with so many ideas for products or services I COULD do, and as I was listening, I felt like they were ALL things I SHOULD do. 

The most frustrating part in the beginning for me was that it was extremely difficult to figure out what to focus on.

Does this resonate with you? Are you full of multiple ideas and listening to a dozen different gurus that, now, you are more confused on where to start and where to focus?

You’re in the right place if that’s you because today I want to share with you the important things to focus on when first starting out. This whole article is based on my own retrospect – what I see actually made the difference in my business versus other things that distracted me from the right work to grow and scale.

80/20 principle

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 principle, right? This is where you will typically get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. In turn, 80% of the things you do only create 20% of your efforts. 

It’s vital you figure out what you NEED to be focusing on in your business because of this principle. You want to focus your main efforts on anything in the 20% that will produce the 80% results.

Of all the things that you can do, what is the most beneficial? What will drive the best results? What needs to be in that 20% of effort to produce the 80%?

The 20% will have the largest impact to move you toward your goals. If you want to hit your goals, you need to follow the 80/20 rule.

RELATED: Here’s what I’d do if I had to start over

What to focus on when starting your business

Focus will drive the needle forward in your business. Being crystal clear on what tasks or projects will bring you closer to your goals is an important key to making the 80/20 principle work for you. Over the years, I have found 5 key places to put my focus that have brought me the largest results.

#1 – be decisive

Make decisions and stick with them until you see the results. Be decisive!

One problem I had early on as I was listening to all the different experts on all the different platforms is that I continually bounced back and forth with different ideas. I kept trying new strategies and thought up exciting product ideas. When I didn’t see immediate results with one idea, I moved on to the next. 

In the financial realm, they tell you not to put all your eggs in one basket, and I kind of thought it was the same with business. Why would I want to run with just one idea at a time? Shouldn’t I diversify? Wouldn’t that be the best thing to do?

Because my efforts were spread too thin among many ideas, I didn’t make progress or momentum in even one of the strategies I tried.

It takes time to figure out which business or product idea will work for you, but you need to actually take the time with one idea and see it through. Don’t hop from idea to the next just because you’re not seeing immediate results. Stick with it until it works or until you realize you need to pivot to a new idea. 

#2 – create simple branding and design

Every business needs to have its own flair or unique appearance. A local storefront may be concerned about how the interior looks and the atmosphere it creates. Online there are a few different factors to consider: a website, logo, colors, fonts, ad copy, and so much more. 

Your branding is important, don’t get me wrong. Branding affects your visibility and how you will drive people to your business. The problem I’ve seen with new business owners is that they get hung up on crafting the perfect branding early on, and they spend entirely too long doing it. 

This was me early on in my own business. I spent way too much time on my YouTube thumbnails, logos, and other graphics, and do you know what? They really didn’t look that great or professional anyway! I wish I had spent a lot LESS time on designs and kept them simple when I was first starting out. 

The more simple your branding, the less time it will take to create it and the less opportunity you have to mess it up. You can make simple designs that look classy and professional in a fraction of the time.

If I were just starting out in business, I’d do three things with my branding:

  1. I’d choose 1-2 fonts for my copy.
  1. I’d choose 1-2 colors and maybe a couple neutrals to go along with them.
  1. I’d write my company name in one of my chosen fonts and use that as my logo.

Keep your branding simple. 

#3 – focus on quality

Focus on doing better, not just doing more. 

This is a trap entrepreneurs tend to fall into – the trap of thinking more is better than less.

Take me for example: I tried to be in all the places and do all the things. I created accounts on a dozen different platforms AND made content for each of them. My content suffered in the process because none of it was quality. 

Because I tried to do more rather than focus on better, I ended up with a lot of sub-par content in too many places and felt stuck.

No matter what type of business you have, you are essentially a small fish in a large sea of competition. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing what you do. Trying to get people to pay attention to you seems impossible, but that visibility is vital for momentum to kick in. 

In order to stand out, you need to create things that are exceptional – things that get others talking about you and sharing your content with their network. This is how viral growth is born!

Focus on quality over quantity. I promise you it makes all the difference!

#4 – differentiate yourself from the competition

When you’re first starting out, thousands of entrepreneurs are offering similar products or services, and they are creating similar content as you. So how do you rise above them and get others to pay attention to you? How do you stand out in the crowd?

The biggest tip I have for you in this arena is to decide how you are either different or better than your competition in some way. What can you do to differentiate yourself from everyone else doing the same thing? What can make you stand out?

I recommend asking yourself two questions to help you decide how you are different or better from your competition:

  1. What is a mistake that you see people commonly making in your industry?
  1. What is a mistake that you see people make who are trying to get the result that you or your product helps people get?

You can use your answers to these two questions as leverage to differentiating yourself from the crowd. Calling out those mistakes that you see others in your industry making and explaining why they are mistakes and what you would do differently will set you apart. 

What about problems consumers have with your competitors’ products? People have problems with every product out there, no matter the industry! For example, if you sell an ebook or physical product, you could look on Amazon for similar items and read reviews on them. 

What problems are you seeing others having with those products? What can you do with yours to set it apart and solve those problems? How can you become the go-to brand in your industry?

The good news is that you only need to be different in one major way. It is much more powerful to be really different in one way rather than to be a little different in a lot of ways. 

Different is better than better. 

No one can buy from you until they know you or your brand exists. How do you get people to pay attention to your brand? People will be more apt to pay attention to you if you are different rather than trying to be better than your competition. You will stand out more. Better your competition by being different. Once you are a leading brand in your industry you can shift your focus on trying to be better than your competition.

When you’re starting out, you need to focus on standing out. 

#5 – make your first sales as soon as possible.

Most people get wrapped up in the business set up rather than in the steps it takes to actually bring in an income. They spend way too much time on branding, creating their website, setting up their systems, and even scaling their business.

But you can’t scale something until you have something to scale…

If you have a business that isn’t making money right now and you try to scale it, that’s what you will scale. A fancier business that still isn’t making money. 

I see entrepreneurs every day get ready to get ready to get ready, but they never actually do the thing!

If you want to grow a successful business, you want to focus on making your first dollars as quickly as you can. From there, you can scale those money-making systems into a big, burly income-making machine. 

I promise you that in the process of trying to make your first dollars, you will learn a ton! I know I did. Selling products first before creating all your systems or even your website will help you to see if there is even a demand for your product at all. Wouldn’t you want to know that before putting all your time into setting your business up?

If you want to put your business idea to the test, earn your first $1,000, and get confidence you're on the right track, join the waitlist for VALIDATE!

As you are in the process of making your first $1,000, you’ll determine quite a few things:

  1. Especially if the product is new or created by you for the first time, you don't know if there is a demand for it yet. Focusing on making money with it will help you determine if there’s a demand for your idea.
  1. Your first sales will give you the confidence you need to know you’re on the right track.
  1. You’ll learn WHY people want your product, and this is valuable for marketing it to the masses. You can use their own words in your marketing messages and really resonate with your audience. 
  1. As you build, you’ll learn what obstacles people are facing and the outcome they desire. Are they finding time to be a challenge, are they doubting their abilities, do they lack the tools? If you learn what obstacles they are facing, you can build solutions to those specific problems into your product and make it even more desirable for them to purchase.

Do you see why it’s important to focus first on making money with your product idea? One of the biggest blessings you can create for yourself is understanding where your target audience is at, the problems they are facing, and the solutions they are desiring.

Once you know the marketing messages that work to sell your product, you can scale those messages and sell your product in mass

It’s tough to know what to focus on when first starting out, but it's vital to figure this out and choose to work on the right 20% of things that will bring out the 80% results. You will get closer to your goals if you take 10 steps in the right direction rather than taking 100 steps in the wrong direction. 

This is the same for business. Don’t work on the wrong things when first getting started expecting amazing results. You will never get to your goals no matter how much work you put in if it’s the wrong work.

Put your focus on these five things when starting out, and I know you can build a flourishing business: 

  1. Be decisive.
  2. Create simple branding and design.
  3. Focus on quality.
  4. Differentiate yourself from the competition.
  5. Make your first sales as soon as possible.

Have you found it hard to know what to focus on as you are starting out in your own business? Which of these 5 focuses do you need to incorporate?

Gillian Perkins

Hi, I’m Gillian! I’m a marketing strategist who helps online entrepreneurs 10X their sales with FB ads + sales funnels. I love combining tech, analytics, and psychology to create powerful marketing systems. When I’m not helping my clients scale their businesses, I’m spending time with my husband and two little boys, exploring new places, or seeking out choice espresso.

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