The "Coconut Factory"
– By Tom Caprel
Talking with entrepreneurs jazzes me up. Some are in the "early stage" of their business and working on start-up challenges. Others are "emerging entrepreneurs" working on growth and scalability challenges. Imagine my surprise when I'm fully engaged with an entrepreneur only to hear something like "…and I'm meeting a buddy in Fiji next week to look at a coconut factory". OK, – a slight exaggeration – it may not be as crazy as a coconut factory but, whatever "it" is, it's a dramatic distraction that does not align in any way, shape, or form with their current business.
The Stroke of Genius versus the Dangerous Distraction
Brainstorming, innovation and generating great new ideas are all pretty well coded into the successful entrepreneur's DNA. More than having a bad case of the "new-shiny-thing-syndrome", true entrepreneurs are the group best suited to coming up with and socializing new ideas; the world benefits from this wellspring of great thinking.
I'm fast becoming aware that the best and most successful entrepreneurs have a well-developed "dangerous distraction" detector and it protects their efforts and their business.
Sometimes dangerous distractions are disguised as "development projects" – ones that have no relationship to your core business. It may look like a venture with a partner (I'll finally be president of a bigger company) because "they really want me to work for them". It may be a chronic case of "I'm going to sell this business; it's not what I really want to do", but nothing ever changes. It can show up as a tidy business that "I'll get to the next stage so I can free up time to do this other thing I want to do" – but the "current thing" never really thrives and the "new thing" never gets done. It's all a trap, a mind game, a myth that zaps your opportunity for success.
The End Game
I feel business owners get distracted because they don't have a clear end game in mind for the business they're in. Some examples of an end game:
- "I'm going to build this business for the next five years and sell it."
- "I'm passing this company on to my heirs, and I'll be CEO until I turn old and gray."
- "I'll build this business so others are empowered to take the helm."
An end game must be inspiring with enough juice to keep you steadfast in your consistent commitment. The end game acts as a filter giving clarity to avoid dangerous distractions disguised as opportunities.
The "coconut factory problem" can be subtle and downright dangerous. We'd encourage every entrepreneur committed to real success to join a group of like-minded business people, get a coach, and/or have and advisory board review your plans and be watchdogs
on alert for the dangerous distractions that make your business under-perform, or fail. Be prepared to listen to your "watchdogs" and act on their advice.
Tom Caprel, Sr. is the founder of Breakthrough Results, and is a master coach in success, both for life and business.