How to Define Your Company’s Core Focus

There’s a reason for your existence. The definition your leadership team selects should be an intersection of the “why” and the “what.”

How do you get your people all on the same page? It can be as simple as coming up with the answers to eight questions that outline the steps necessary for success. While some of these questions are easy, they won’t make any difference if your leadership team doesn’t completely agree – down to the last person – about the answers.

This Vision/Traction Organizer™ exercise starts with establishing core values, and then it’s time to define your core focus.

There’s a reason for your existence. The definition your leadership team selects should be an intersection of the “why” and the “what.” The “why” is your purpose; your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. And the “what” is your niche.

The sweet spot

If you play golf, you understand the sweet spot. The harder you swing, often the worse your accuracy becomes. But when you find that natural stance, everything aligns – and it becomes effortless. Your core focus is basically what’s accomplished when you find that sweet spot for your business.

It usually comes from the founder – though it’s important to remember that people don’t always lead, but purposes do. That’s why it’s so important to define and distill a clear core focus.

Start with why

An organization’s core focus is inspiring. People can rally around it and think passionately. That passion is important because it’s what ultimately fuels both performance and innovation. An optimal core focus as it applies to your VTO describes the future state of the company.

The reason you will achieve that future state – your why – brings you back to the sweet spot. It shouldn’t be difficult or take much effort at all to maintain your core focus. It is your purpose, after all. Your cause. Your passion. It’s why you exist.

Provident CPA & Business Advisors’ ”why” is helping entrepreneurs achieve financial freedom. It’s a simple, extremely clear explanation of why we do what we do.

Once you have your core focus defined, you’ll discover that it acts as a guiding and filtering mechanism. Your leadership team will make decisions based on the core focus. Basically, if an action doesn’t align with your organization’s purpose, cause, or passion – you shouldn’t be doing it.

Then move on to what

There is something that your organization does better than anybody else. The reason you’re better at it than everyone is another reason why you exist, of course. That one thing is your niche.

It’s how you approach your purpose, cause, or passion. It’s the demonstrable thing that moves you toward your goal.

Your niche might be a product or a philosophy, or it could also be a process. Again, there must be unified agreement about your niche. It’s going to propel the entire organization forward.

It keeps you focused on what you can be better at than anyone else in the world while helping you avoid business decisions that distract you from what you should be doing. (e.g., A paper company that makes great paper but then decides to start selling printers – it almost never works.)

Flip-flopping is normal

As you work on defining the why and the what that comprise your core focus, don’t be surprised or frustrated if you discover that your answers flip back and forth – what you thought of as your passion suddenly makes more sense as your niche, and what you’ve described as the one thing you do better than everybody else is ultimately an answer to why you exist.

These two concepts are inextricably intertwined. Defining your core focus can take a matter of minutes – or it might take weeks. It’s an answer with two steps. Explain why you exist, and then define what uniquely accomplishes that purpose, cause, or passion.

Remember, Provident’s “why” is “to help entrepreneurs achieve financial freedom.” Our niche is “is building great family businesses.” It’s easy to see how the niche could have started out being defined as our passion – but in the end, it’s what makes us stay focused on what we can be the best in the world at.

Do not pass go

You might be tempted to move on to the remainder of the eight VTO questions if you struggle with reaching a definitive answer about your core focus. Don’t.

Once your core focus is defined, the rest of your answers become more detailed. They’re all based on operating from that sweet spot. You understand why you exist and the one specific thing that sets you apart from the competition. The decisions you’ll make that become actionable steps on your VTO are all based on your core focus.

Read more about why we exist.