Keep your focus

Jun 15, 2020

Are you doing what you really should be for your business right now? Or are you just floating along on a sea of uncertainty, afraid to move or you’ll turn over your raft?

So many distractions. Just seems like it’s one thing after another that can be upsetting. What’s next? Who knows.

One thing is for sure, though. Your business needs you. Your clients need you. Your employees need you. Let’s try to keep our attention on that reality as we move ahead.

As a business school professor, management consultant, and business owner myself, if there is one thing I know for sure that leads to reduced business performance, or, in the worst cases, complete failure, it’s having an owner or owners who aren’t paying attention to it.

I’m a simple guy so I will keep things simple for our readers. Here are my thoughts on how to keep yourself focused on that machine that feeds you and most everyone else in your world:

  1. Reduce the amount of time you spend watching or listening to the news or social media. I live in a house with nine televisions. Odds are that at any time from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. or so one or more of those TVs is playing the news. Then we have all the social media channels we use for work but inevitably other stuff creeps into your feed. Believe me, I’m really well-informed. Maybe too informed. Not to say ignorance is bliss but I don’t think it’s healthy for your business to keep yourself in a constant state of agitation.
  2. Increase the amount of time you spend talking to or working with clients. Clients are the reason your business exists. Period. Without them you don’t have a business. So they are important. Really important. You have got to keep your eye on the ball and constantly be assessing what their real needs are and how you and your business can help them. You are more likely to be able to do that if you spend more time talking to them and working with them.
  3. Increase the amount of time you spend working on projects. See point No. 2 above. Working on jobs makes you more in tune with your clients’ needs. It also helps your relationships with your employees who see you there working alongside them. They love that. And you get to see who is really good and who needs your training and mentoring when you work with your people on projects. That is invaluable information, too.
  4. Increase the frequency of distribution of your business metrics. Keep your eye on the ball. Daily cash collection reports. Weekly cash flow projections. Weekly marketing reports. Other weekly performance metric reports. Keep the information on how the business is performing flowing and flowing quickly, and you will be more likely to stay focused on the company versus being distracted by other stuff.
  5. Increase the amount of time you spend on marketing and selling. Now is the time to do it. Companies in the A/E business (and others) seem to be falling into two camps. Those who are increasing their marketing and selling activities to fight back against any backlog erosion, and then those who are doing LESS marketing and selling than they used to. I don’t need to tell you who is going to do better. I do not understand cutting back on marketing and selling at a time like this. Makes no sense, other than management must be paralyzed with fear. Get back on your marketing job!
  6. Increase the amount of time you spend in the office. Yes, we have a lot of telecommuting today and to a great extent it has probably worked better than many of us expected. That said, now that things are opening up, maybe it would be easier for you to keep your focus if you went back into the office more often. Less non-work distractions. And you are setting an example for everyone else. There is something to be said for “working visibility” when it comes to owners and managers in an A/E firm.

All successful people can get themselves to focus. Are you doing what you really should be for your business right now? Or are you just floating along on a sea of uncertainty, afraid to move or you’ll turn over your raft?

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.