The painful consequences of not focusing

The month was March of 2018.
I had just laid off 6 people from Lead Cookie.
Lead Cookie had racked up $22,000 of credit card debt.
And for the next two months, I wasn't going to be getting paid.

I picked up a copy of the book called The One Thing by Gary Keller. 
And the opening line changed me.

"If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one." - Russian Proverb

I read that sentence and just rolled back in my chair.

"Yep, I know what I need to do," I said.

It was time to focus on doing one thing and doing it extremely well.

In this article, I am going to share that journey and how getting focused changed everything.

The state of my business life prior to March, 2018

At that point in time, I was doing the following:

Running Lead Cookie which was hovering around $24k MRR (but we were not profitable).
I was entering in as a formal business partner with a past consulting client to become his VP of Sales.
I was doing consulting engagements for one-off clients who came to me. 

Needless to say, I was spread thin.

And while I thought I could do it all, or that I was "diversifying my risk", the truth is, I was sabotaging all of my efforts by splitting my time.

My consulting clients were getting a half-assed effort because I didn't have the mental energy to pour into them.

The deal with my business partner was struggling because I couldn't deliver as a VP of Sales fully since my time was split.

And Lead Cookie took it the worst... this venture, which had amazing potential, was losing money every single month due to my lack of focus on it.

I had to lay off 6 people... and it sucked.

And what made it harder is that it was 100% my fault.
My lack of focus led me to not fixing our money problems sooner. 

And my team had to pay the price for it.

So when I read that line, "If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one", I knew what I had to do. 

I had to focus.

The pain of not focusing

Many of you reading this are splitting your time across multiple ventures, and it's hard to even fathom the idea of cutting ties with any of them.

You may have sunk countless hours into something and are afraid of losing it.
You may be tied up in agreements and commitments to other people. 
Or you may just be afraid of committing to one and actually seeing yourself fail or succeed. 

I was there. 
This was not an easy process.
In fact, it sucked. 

Breaking up a business partnership
To start, I had this consulting client who I was becoming a business partner and VP of Sales for. I had invested into this engagement and relationship for almost 10 months.

We were literally about to go to an attorney to draft up an operating agreement.

I had to get on the phone and say, "I can't keep doing this. I have to focus my time. I'm sorry. I will do whatever I can to make this transition smooth, but I have to do this."

That was hard. 
And I spent the next several months working for free to try to make that transition out of the role smooth for him. 
It wasn't perfect, but I did the best I could.

Turning away consulting contracts
Next, I had to start turning away consulting contracts. 

Due to my blog and podcast, I get inquiries from people who want to hire me, work with me for coaching, or mentorship. 

It was so hard to turn these away.

You have someone there saying "Please, take my money."
And you just have to be like "No, I can't do that because I need to focus."

To make matters worse, some of these people get persistent.

I've had people email me 3-4 times trying to get me to consult or coach for them.

And while I could do it, there is an even bigger cost...

The opportunity cost of splitting your time

I wish there was a way to say if you focus your time and energy on one thing, you will see a 200% ROI in 6 months.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The opportunity cost of splitting your time is soft. 
It's hard to quantify.
But I can guarantee you it's real.

I know this because splitting my time caused me to have to lay off 6 people.
It wrecked hell on my personal happiness.
I was constantly overwhelmed and living in a land of chaos.

There is no quantifiable number to all of this...

Unless you look at the gain of actually focusing.

The power of focus

When I finally focused down on Lead Cookie, here is where we were at:

$24k MRR.
We had 19 clients. 
We had racked up $22,000 of credit card debt.
I had just laid off 6 people. 
And for the next two months, I wasn't going to get paid. 

So I started to focus. I cut out all of my other commitments and focused on just building up Lead Cookie.

Within 11 months, we have achieved the following:

~$50,000 in MRR
50 active clients
We have not had to lay off a single person since.
I am making the most money I have ever made in my life.
My business is more calm and predictable than it has ever been before.

It is a night and day difference. 

That didn't happen overnight. 
But it happened by a singular focus on one thing for the past 11 months.

But Jake, aren't you launching new things now?

For anyone who has been following my blog, they know that I have been working on a new venture for the past 3 months. 

And in regards to that, we recently launched a new service line called Lead Cookie Nurture.

Isn't that a lack of focus?

Well to explain my reasoning here, I will share a simple framework I learned from Garrett J White of Wake Up Warrior. 

I follow Garrett, not just because he is a great coach, but because he has built multiple businesses. He's not just a coach running a coaching business. He owns a chain of salons in addition to the coaching that he does. 

His general principle is this:

"There are 3 stages of business. 

You build it.
You stabilize it.
You protect it. 

You can't build two businesses at the same time. If you do, you are robbing time from both.

But once you hit the stabilization and protection phase, that is when you can start to look at other business endeavors."

Lead Cookie's outbound prospecting service is at a state of maturity. It is stable, predictable, and other than sales, I am hands-off with this service.

Also, due to the fact that we are an outbound lead generation channel, we experience a rather high churn rate. People cancel because we run out of high-quality leads to target because they either struggle to close or because they are overwhelmed with leads.

This high churn rate, due to the nature of being a lead gen service, puts us at a glass ceiling. 

Since we know we have a roughly 80% retention rate every month, that means that we have to sell more accounts every month to make up for lost accounts.

At the moment, we churn 10 accounts every month which means we have to sell 10 accounts to break even.

This is the nature of being a lead gen service and I will share more on this in future episodes. 

But the key point is, Lead Cookie's outbound prospecting service has become stable and predictable. 

I've removed myself from it as much as I can. 
And that is giving me the freedom to now open up new revenue channels and service lines.

Someday, I may launch another coaching or consulting business again.
But for now, it's time to focus. 

The new service lines we are opening at Lead Cookie are giving us the potential to grow this to $5M and beyond.

But in order to hit that, I have to focus. 

The bottom line

You can't build two businesses at once.
Once one becomes stable, you can remove yourself from it and start building a second.

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