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Want to be successful? Focus on one business

Managing several different businesses all at the same time would not just be exhilarating; doing so can also trim the potential for success.
By Steve Tobak |
Want to be successful? Focus on one business

Every time you turn around, there's another loony fad making the rounds in entrepreneurial circles. It could be the inevitable result of all our insatiable appetite for online content. Truth, logic, and just plain common sense take a backseat to hype. If it sounds good, we click, post, tweet ... rinse and repeat.


The latest fairy tale is that real entrepreneurs start lots of businesses. If you only start one company, you're limiting your potential. The more businesses you create the better, the more knowledgeable, influential, financially secure, and successful you'll become. And so on.


This is all so wrong we may not know where to start. Actually, let's begin there. Since when is starting anything an accomplishment?


Whether it's a project, a race, a family, a foundation, or a business, starting anything is relatively easy. It has little value. It's finishing that matters. Growing. Accomplishing. Achieving. Results. In a business, that means delivering value to customers, employees, and shareholders.    



Related: The true meaning of 'entrepreneur'


steve_jobs.jpgSteve Jobs once told Fortune, "People think focus means saying 'yes' to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying 'no' to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully."



In a recent Fast Company interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "There's this thing in technology, almost a disease, where the definition of success is making the most. How many clicks did you get, how many active users do you have, how many units did you sell? Steve never got carried away with that. He focused on making the best."


When it comes to anything important in life, more is never better. Better is better. And best is even better than that. Less is more. That's just common sense. In terms of everything that matters - love, passion, focus, attention--the more things you have, the thinner you're spread and the less you'll come to value them.


Think about it. The best thing about life is that you only have one. That's where the richness, wisdom, and fulfillment come from. Imagine how superficial life would be if you started it over from scratch every few months or had to jump around between lives. That's not better. That's a nightmare.



Businesses and careers are no different. Picasso painted. Henry Ford made cars. Einstein was obsessed with light. They excelled at what they did because they focused their passion and attention on one thing at a time. Bill Gates had Microsoft and now the Gates Foundation. Mark Zuckerberg has Facebook. Same thing.


Related: Success is never an accident. It's a choice.


The vast majority of successful entrepreneurs start one, maybe two companies. Sometimes they start more because it takes a few to get it right. They don't generally do more than one at the same time, however, but in succession.


And perhaps the most successful companies are one-trick-ponies: Intel microprocessors, Cisco routers, Starbucks espresso cafes, Whole Foods markets, Coca-Cola, and so on. In any case, they focus. 


Look, there simply is no truth or logic to this more is better nonsense when it comes to entrepreneurs and businesses. And I have to say, the vast majority of self-proclaimed serial entrepreneurs I've come across are posers trying to pump up their personal brands. They don't actually appear to be adept at anything. Don't drink their brand of Kool-Aid.



Related: Get some real advice for God's sake


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This article originally appeared on . Minor edits have been done by the editor.


Photos from  (Conan and Surian Soosay)

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