Because it’s ok to miss out (on something) for a good cause


How to make sure I’ll be there when the next big thing comes around?” What if you went to pick what’s your thing instead?

The fear of missing out on an opportunity or something that might increase one’s chances of success is very common. It’s known as FOMO. Wanting to belong (to a group of community) is a key part of Human Nature. The possibility of being left out or excluded “because we’ve missed out on something that our friends or competitors might have not” then appears as a threat.

As an entrepreneur, being left out or adopted by a clientele makes all the difference. Since one company is rarely the only one trying to appeal to a certain group of people, how do you increase your chances of success?

FOMO makes a candy store expand to sell cookies, then stuffed animals (Felix & Norton Cookies), a clothing store add shelf space to sell foods and prescriptions (Wal-Mart). Even a bookstore to sell jeans and patio furniture (Amazon). Maybe the same for you, wanting to offer a 360 degree solution to your clientele. Stretching every buck and working hour available to attract as many customers as possible.

Revenue growth is one possible outcome of such business diversification effort. Yet, it also increases the number of products/services to look after, and market threats to consider. Making it almost mandatory for you to spread your attention. Even if you increase your team’s size. As a result, it makes you more prone to distraction. Why? Because there are so few things a person or team can give its attention to (in an efficiently manner) without possibly “dropping the ball” at some point in time. These distractions aren’t necessarily related to your industry but have this catchy power when attached to words like “latest” or “new”; new trend, latest success story.

A key question then is: of all the information available or coming your way, which should you consider to make sure you keep on getting paid (or receive subsidies, if an NGO) for the service/product you provide to your clientele?

That’s what the best specialty shops do. Avoiding spreading their attention thin. While still increasing their chances of growing financially healthy.

How? By picking a cause or a problem and make it theirs. The product/service they end up offering then comes as a solution to the dire-problem. People are willing to pay a premium for a real solution. Not for a mere or half-baked one. If you were gluten-intolerant, would you be willing to pay more for a gluten-free loaf of bread or pack of pastas, than what you’d usually pay for a non-gluten-free equivalent at the grocery store? Costco’s mechanics might be certified ones but how good and reliable is Costco to repair cars, compared to the top specialty repair shops in your town?

What is a good cause or problem to make yours then?

The core reason you’ve started your company for is a good starting point. The same for your team’s ultimate goal. Becoming the number 1 player in your industry or increasing the company’s profit margin aren’t causes or problems. They’re possible outcomes of solving a problem. Not having access to gluten-free food products when gluten intolerant is a problem. Helping gluten-intolerant people have access to gluten-free products – either through producing or distributing them – is a solution.

Deliberately choosing what you focus on provides many benefits. Two of them are 1) deepening your knowledge about a given problem, and 2) honing your craft in solving it. Enough for you or your team to become a sought-after expert and eventually be adopted as “problem X solution providers”. At least, by those looking for a real solution to that one problem.

In the end, it’s ok to miss out on something for a good cause. As most seasoned fisherman will tell you, when observing a river flow: the fun isn’t in catching everything that moves. It’s in knowing what is your thing, and experiencing the adrenalin rush that comes with giving all you’ve got, while going for that one thing. Another, that hunters will tell you about, is the thrill of being the first to see coming what you’re hunting for before others do.

When considering your company activities or industry, what is the one cause or problem you’d like to make (or have already made) yours?

Signature PF