Diary of a start-up: Why you need to focus, focus and re-focus!

Andrew Needham explains why pitching to a famous retail entrepreneur made him realise the need to remain focused on his business' core proposition

Andrew Needham is founder and CEO of creative meeting and venue space booking platform Headbox. In his first blog as our Diary of a start-up, Needham discussed the value of ‘founding moments’ and the steps taken to launch his start-up business.

In his second blog, the entrepreneur shares four points to help you achieve focus in your start-up journey…

I was in an investor meeting with Nick Wheeler, the CEO and founder of Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts, a few weeks ago pitching the idea of HeadBox. We discussed a common challenge facing entrepreneurs when starting and growing businesses: the importance of staying focused on your company’s core proposition.

We had both learnt from past experiences that letting yourself get distracted from this or trying to do too many different things too early leads to problems. It is hard to stay focused because when you’re starting a business there are so many varied things to do in a short period of time.

Our conversation was a healthy reminder of a discipline I have been trying to stick to every day since launching HeadBox.

So, here are four steps I have followed to help me achieve more focus…

Write down your brand and value proposition

At the outset I wanted HeadBox to be clear about what we were going to stand for as a brand and the value I wanted us to create for both our ‘Guests’ and ‘Hosts’ by challenging the current and traditional way of searching, booking and paying for spaces.

The exercises we did as part of this forced us to be clear about what market we are going after, who our key audiences are; the problems we are trying to solve and why our solution is better and differentiated from the competition. Setting this out clearly has helped us drive the direction of so many other aspects of the business.

Have an ambitious product mission

We have set an ambitious product mission – the North Star for everything we do on a product level. This has helped us to stay focused at a product level; to prioritise what’s important and what’s not, as well as inspire us to test the boundaries of what’s possible.

We believe that technology can solve big problems and change people’s lives for the better and we want to keep proving that with HeadBox. At the same time our pursuit of Facebook’s mantra “done is better than perfect” also means we stay real.

Set clear and realistic goals

Another important discipline I am sticking to in everything we’re doing is setting clear and realistic goals that are time specific. The biggest goal we set ourselves was launching HeadBox just six months after starting the business and ensuring that when we went live we had over 1,000 amazing spaces on the platform.

Now that we are live, we have set new goals – not just in terms of the spaces we want to have on our platform in 2016 and beyond – but the targets we want to hit from a revenue, marketing and product point of view as well.

Setting the right goals for our business has given us purpose, momentum and direction.

Keep re-focusing

An important part of being focused in the early stages of starting a business is having the ability to re-focus. Most entrepreneurs will say that what you wrote in your business plan and what actually happens when your business is live are two very different things. So being able to adapt without veering off course is key.

Two things I have in place to help me re-evaluate where I am against my goals is having a strong board of advisors and/or directors around me who I have to report to through regular board meetings as well as receiving regular and constant feedback from our Hosts and Guests. Both groups help me to step back from the coalface and re-assess to check that what we’re doing is delivering against our value proposition and that we are prioritising our focus in the best way.

I’m glad to say that Nick Wheeler has decided to invest in HeadBox so he’s clearly happy with our focus so far!

For future updates about HeadBox’s journey (and content from previous diary bloggers), check out our Diary of a Start-up channel.

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