Throughout our careers, we’re often told to focus, to do one thing well and nothing else. Entrepreneur Stef Lewandowski makes the case for having several irons in the fire:
My approach, looking back at having been in that liminal putting-out-feelers state a few times now, is to let a thousand flowers bloom. In the past, rather than looking for a single opportunity to fully commit to, I’ve started off with several ideas with several people, with a huge variety in scale. I remember when I decided to move away from agency life, I had a proposal in the final stages for a £25m innovation lab, a handful of prototypes, a citizen journalism project that had users, and a diagram on a piece of paper for how you might make a TV and film workflow in a web browser.
The lab didn’t happen, the prototypes were interesting but didn’t grow, the citizen journalism project had no revenue, but that piece of paper, well, we raised some angel funds and it became my next focus.
The lesson here isn’t that focus is “bad,” but that there’s a time for focusing and there’s a time for putting out feelers. “Once you’ve spotted something,” he continues, “and you’ve got a good signal, that this is the thing you should be doing, then it’s all about getting laser-focussed to make it happen. Spotting it though is really hard.”