Business Focus vs. Peripheral Vision vs. Growth

It’s all paradoxical. Consider this quote:

“I don’t know the secret to success, but I do know that the secret to failure is trying to please everybody.”

While driving to the office a few minutes ago, I saw an unusual Fedex truck, like a stunted-growth moving van, with the signage: “Fedex White Glove Service.” I don’t know what that is and I don’t care particularly but it made me think how Fedex has expanded past its initial vision of “it absolutely positively has to be there tomorrow.”

Do you think it’s true that businesses have to stay focused when they’re small but develop peripheral vision as the grow?

What I know about Fedex is what I see on television mostly, but it seems like an example of peripheral vision. From that first “absolutely positively” focus on overnight to two-day, then three-day, then bulk, then Kinkos, international somewhere in the mix, now white glove service (whatever that is, it’s about moving, I can tell by the truck).

So that seems like the opposite of focus: peripheral vision, perhaps? Moving from where you are into nearby markets. Seems like a good thing when it works, but do we hear about it when it doesn’t? When businesses lose focus? When starbucks tries to offer cheap coffee, or McDonalds offers fancy lattes?

There’s a lot to be said for understanding who isn’t your customer. And, on the other hand, not arguing with success.

The displacement principle: everything you do rules out something else that you don’t do. It seems to belong inside this paradox.

(Photo credit: from Expediters Online. Click the picture to link to the page.)

5 thoughts on “Business Focus vs. Peripheral Vision vs. Growth

  1. Tim –
    Great observation. I have been in this type of discussion as few times over the past few months. Seems like once revenues start to slide, the first order of business is getting new customers that may not necessarily be the right customers. Short term boost, long term drag.

    Again, great point!

  2. Tim, this is surely one of your most “observant” posts.

    I guess I would like to contribute a different perspective when businesses lose focus: Cheap coffees and fancy lattes are out of the question — instead, free steaming cups of java with all the works or a giant burger laden with all cardiac-shocking goodness will come into play.

    Keep them coming!

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