If I had to start from scratch today…


…what would I focus on?  What would I do on a regular basis to ensure (or at least increase the likelihood of) success from the get-go?

When I look back at six-plus years in business, there’s plenty I’m proud of.  Plenty more I wish I had done more of, things I wish I’d done earlier, etc.

I’ve had numerous friends, peers, customers and prospects ponder stepping out on their own.  Every time it takes me back to this very question – if I were to start from scratch again tomorrow, what would I prioritize?

At minimum, it would be these five things:

1. Sales & prospecting discipline
Nothing happens until you sell something.  That starts from day one.  Actually, it should start before day one if you want billings or revenue right away.  But even if you’re building something for sale in your early days, a discipline of regular sales management, prospecting, following up with your target accounts – that’s a requirement for growing a successful business in any field or industry.  There is no such thing as “build it and they will come.”  If you want to predictably hit your number, if you want consistent revenue, this is a must-have.

2. Content frequency & focus
I was three years into my business before I started blogging every day.  I wish I had started doing that sooner.  And although some of the best blogs I read clearly follow a serendipitous editorial route, I highly recommend focusing the majority of content on the topics, keywords, pain points and problems that your target audience focuses on regularly.  This will help attract the right prospects to you, and help them understand how well you already understand their issues.

3. Narrow networking
Know the people you want to know, and go after them.  Prioritize networking at events, conferences, social networks and more where they particularly congregate.  Some of my earliest professional networking (when it was still just me, a laptop and a bus pass) was at events where the overlap between my target and the circulating audience was very low.  Great people, good networking, but minimal business development value.  While it’s true that you never know which relationships will eventually turn into business (directly or indirectly), there’s a ton of value in being premeditated about focused, precise networking execution.

4. Mentors & advisors
I’m incredibly lucky to be part of EO (Entrepreneur Network)  in Seattle for the past two years, which has provided an unparalleled experience learning from other business owners who have been there (and mostly still are there).  I wish I would have been more proactive and formal about identifying and engaging mentors and advisors on a regular basis early on.  Sure, I did this with a handful of people I truly respected and trusted.  I should have just done it more often.

5. Productivity & focus discipline
I’m a productivity nut, but that hasn’t kept me from focusing on the wrong things too often.  This includes not just how I manage my day, calendar and email.  It’s also how effectively I’m staying focused on the right work. The right initiatives.  The most urgent AND important priorities for the day, month and year.  I’ve learned if nothing else that focus is fleeting.  It takes constant vigilance.

If I had to start from scratch tomorrow, these five focus areas would be my foundation.  How about you?