We’ve reviewed two types of Company’s recently with very different business philosophies: laser focused and multiple pronged (think of a chair, tripod, etc) approaches. We’ve seen successful models in both philosophies and this entry is part one of two on detailing the business habits of each. The laser focused approach can center on several different things: a channel, a specific market, a loan product or one marketing approach.
With the Olympics finished, I’d like to compare the laser focused approach to women’s beach volleyball. We’re family friends with Kerri Walsh, who just won her third straight beach volleyball gold medal. She was an accomplished indoor volleyball player, but after her first Olympics competing in indoor volleyball, she decided to focus 100% of her time on beach volleyball. While a very accomplished overall volleyball player, she could have tried to compete in both indoor and outdoor, she decided to focus solely on one sport. The results were amazing, three straight gold medals and is considered one of the best beach volleyball players of all time.
The laser focused approach takes a forward thinking leader who believes the Company can become the best in the space it is focusing on. The main risk with the laser focused approach is putting all the Company’s eggs in one basket. Inside factors such as poor management and execution, or if the leader is incorrect in his/her focused belief can doom the Company. In addition, outside factors such as regulatory policies, market conditions or vendor/third party partner inadequacies can spoil the laser focused approach. However, with success the laser focused approach the Company can become an industry leader in the field in which the Company is focused on. Laser focus can help to decrease expenses, streamline operational efficiencies, increase brand recognition in the focused space and recruit experienced focused employees.
Eye on the prize
The laser focus is centered around a Company philosophy of having the eye on the prize. The eye on the prize is a clear end goal. Does the Company want to offer their wholesale clients the best operational workflow and always offer 24 hours underwriting turntimes, or does the Company want to be the lowest cost retail USDA lender in the national focusing on Internet leads? Having a clear end goal is similar to knowing your destination when getting into a car; you may know where you are going, but due to traffic and weather conditions, you may need to alter the path taken to get to the destination. Altering the path leads to flexibility.
While working towards an end goal and having an eye on the prize, management must be flexible in navigating the Company towards that goal. Creating objectives and being willing to change and modify the objectives is critical in reaching the goal. Very seldom do the stars align and the initial created objectives lead to a successful goal. Adaptation, flexibility and the philosophy of “checking your ego at the door”, allows a Company to modify the objectives due to market conditions, regulatory restrictions, competition and incorrect initial objectives.
Like with all business planning, having a laser focused approach needs a clear and cohesive memorialized roadmap. The roadmap should include the end goal written in pen and the objectives written in pencil.
Cameron Watts, CMB
C. M. "Corky" Watts, CMB