Spreading your focus

Odior C Yole
4 min readNov 20, 2020

This goes against conventional wisdom but I have a problem with people picking exactly where they want a principle to apply.

In investments, you are told not to put all your eggs into one basket- it is considered smart to diversify in investments. However, in entrepreneurship, you are advised to focus all your energy on just one company and not spread yourself. This is the fundamental flaw in the principle of focus.

I was listening to a podcast yesterday where the host described that it is detrimental to spread your energy across various tasks — using marketing as an example, he mentioned it being a bad practice if you can’t focus on just one customer acquisition model. He literally said if you are focusing on social media ads, then do that and ignore ignore podcasting and/or blogging and/or seo and/or the multiple other forms of acquiring customers.

In my opinion, this is lazy thinking. When did humans become so lazy that you can’t do more than one thing at a time?

The dumb assertion that Jeff Bezos became the richest man because he was focused on just Amazon and not the guy running 10 companies is, yes, just a dumb assertion.

Most people who multi task and run several companies at a time are operating at a higher level of efficiency. There is this thing in Southern Nigeria called ‘mami-water’; usually used to refer to as mermaid by the West. You see in Southern Nigeria, people believe in mami-water because there’s a lot of rivers around so people can worship or infer it’s impact either positively or negatively in their lives.

In Northern Nigeria though, a mountainous terrain, there are no rivers and those guys there can’t relate to the idea of mami-water. Instead, they believe in mountain spirits. Those in southern Nigeria think mountain spirits are not a thing!

You see how the belief system and opinions of people are shaped by their environment and the physical features surrounding them? In the same way, people can run multiple businesses or just one based on their clime; determined by their political climate, availability of skills/raw materials, access to basic amenities, access to talents, access to credit facilities and many more. Even basic data points that you can extract data from to give you vital signals like credit scores, background checks and all those basic things can improve the business climate.

In an article I wrote a while back, I mentioned how charging $20,000 for website design was detrimental to my business scaling. I was modelling my business after large web design businesses in the U.S, but you see, they have different departments for different tasks — front end dev unit, back end dev units, UI/UX teams, content generation, customer service… if you were to build a website in Nigeria, you would need to tick all the boxes yourself. You basically do everything from the Photoshop Mockup to the design and development of the site. This means a basic web designer in this part of the world has to be equipped with the following skills: html, css, php, javascript, Mysql, Photoshop, then he also has to be proficient in technologies like AWS, Github and everything in that category. While at it, he needs to be able to set up mail servers, debug code, edit templates, make sense of cron…you get my drift? Whereas, in other climes, one could decide to pick front end dev as his core competency and find a job employing him for just that.With html, css and javascript, he’s good to go. An added advantage would be Figma.

Western thoughts mostly do not apply to our businesses here. We have to put on many hats to pull off a job. Even in the West, most people have to work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. I am often always appalled when people frown on entrepreneurs who run multiple businesses together.

My to-do list for today cuts across 3 startups I run:

  1. TSC (A web/app design dev agency servicing clients in the U.S) — Secure the U.S phone number, get it registered properly, set it up on Whatsapp, complete the landing page design for our marketing deal.
  2. Strata (An edtech firm equipping Africans with vital skills to bridge the knowledge gap) — Make a list of 200 ‘travel abroad’ agencies and reach out for partnership on our course sales.
  3. Wedding Hero (An event planning company with a sales arm targeted at the $100m a year wedding industry in Nigeria)- complete partnership agreements with FABTUR, brush up home page design according to the agreements reached in our last meeting.

These are the 3 tasks I have to complete today and they cut across vastly 3 different industries — from education to development to the entertainment industry.

If I were focused on just one business, I would complete the single task then go play Fifa with the extra time; but now, my extra time is dedicated to completing tasks in my other startups…and here lies the heart of the whole matter — people unable to juggle ten businesses together and succeed at them fall into the following categories

  1. They are in a saner clime where things work and they don’t have to do so much
  2. They lack the required discipline to deploy their time efficiently across multiple areas
  3. They have failed to develop the mental capacity required to multi task
  4. They have listened to the wrong advise and message of focus too long that they cannot dare to imagine someone doing something differently.

There guys, you have it. Some of us are in it for the passion, for the love of starting stuff.

If you think multitasking is achievable, you’ll find my book valuable — https://strata.com.ng/first-survive/




Odior C Yole

Startup founder. I’ll share my journey, processes, tactics, challenges and victories till we hit 3 billion customers worldwide.