In startup life, there are a number of things you can focus on that can all draw attention. Lately my distraction is wondering how much more quickly we would grow if we had some venture capital for marketing. So we've worked on pitch decks, entered contests, crunched numbers and tweaked our social profiles - but after a couple of months the realization has dawned on me that these things are so far outside the scope of what our startup is about, it's been a distraction.

I'm proposing that a SaaS or web-based startup has a concentric array of elements to focus on in this order, with each outside circle progressively demanding less attention.

Fig. 1

Focus on your product first and then everything else while growing your startup.

  • Product - The only reason I put this first is because you wouldn't have customers without a product. Therefore the product is the "egg" in the chicken / egg scenario.
  • Customers - Improve your customers lives, make things, easier, ease pain, etc.
  • Team - Want to know how to attract great talent? Improve the lives of your co-workers.
  • Self - Continually learn, improve yourself. You can only contribute what you possess, so work to be a person of great value by absorbing intelligent content and sharing it with others through your lifestyle.
  • Everyone Else - Everyone outside of this circle is a potential customer or teammate, true, but by focusing on things inside the circles, you're going to draw people in by virtue of being excellent, rather than spending time chasing them or distracted with thoughts of how to attract them.

I'm not saying you shouldn't talk to investors, pitch, or make slide decks - I'm just saying in the order of priority for these things should fall in the everyone else category, once you've focused on the prior elements.