Being successful doesn’t mean being good at everything, no one is good at everything. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Too often we focus on trying to fix our weaknesses rather than exploiting our strengths. The smaller your company the more important this is.
There was a really fantastic write up by Robert Scoble on why Google is having so much trouble innovating. One of their biggest problems is that they are too big and have too many constraints on their projects. When you’re small you can move in whatever direction you need to. You can throw away features and start off with something simple.
The mobile revolution has left us with lots of one-function applications that are very successful. The lesson is that you only have to do one thing really well, most companies get stuck trying to plug every hole and end up with lots of things they do mediocre.
Being Great at a Few Things
Another examples of focusing is Five Guys. They’re a burger joint that doesn’t do milkshakes. Who ever heard of a burger joint that doesn’t do milkshakes before they came along? They made the decision that they couldn’t do it really well. Jerry Murrel, the founder of Five Guys said:
If we put one frozen thing in our restaurant, we’d be done. That’s why we won’t do milk shakes. For years, people have been asking for them! But we’d have to do real ice cream and real milk.
The made a decision that they couldn’t be great at milkshakes and moved on. Five Guys is one of the fastest growing restaurants around specifically because they are humble and know that they can only be great at a few things.
So, what are you good at? If you don’t know you’d better figure it out quick.