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Small business, big mistake: Pouring my energy into two ideas, rather than one

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When my co-founder and I started VenturePact, we had a ton of excitement and energy. We believed that we had a great solution to the tech talent crunch and were going to bring great changes to the industry. But then something unexpected happened.

Have you ever gone for a hike through the woods and found yourself straying from the trail because you couldn’t help exploring all those other tiny lanes that branched out to the right and left? They look fascinating, they look inviting, and they look like they could possibly lead to a great place; something new and exciting.

That’s exactly what happened to us. We got distracted.

What’s important to remember is that the more time you spend exploring these distractions, the less time you spend on the road you’re truly meant to walk — and the longer it’s going to take you to get where you’re going.

The first-year challenge

 Within the first year of launching VenturePact, our attention got diverted by two other ideas: For one, we partnered with the Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania to launch a course where students would get full class credits for working with one of our clients. And two, we built a hiring platform where companies could seek out students in college for internships or for full-time jobs after they graduated.

In and of themselves, each of these ideas had great potential, and both received great responses from the audience. We spent a few weeks negotiating with Wharton, arguing that providing class credit for students who can help out start-ups would be great as the students would get real experience and young start-ups would be able to get some marketing or strategy help.

The hiring platform also made sense, as we were well-connected to students, and most start-ups have a lot of work on their plate and were interested in hiring young, energetic individuals to help out. We were thrilled with the response from the students, start-ups and Penn.

However, we started to notice something that wasn’t so heartening. Despite every attempt to ensure otherwise, we weren’t able to focus on our core VenturePact business. VenturePact was going well, but there were no big changes or improvements made during those months when we were setting up the course and the hiring platform.

We weren’t progressing as fast as we would have liked to — and the reason was clear. Our focus had been diverted. We were chasing way too many ideas. Instead of focusing on the core functions of the company, we lost our focus.

Start small to become great

Albert Einstein once said, “A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.” Well, we made mistakes, and we learned an important lesson: As a small team, you can’t build amazing products by building three or four different things all at once.

Here’s another way to look at it, courtesy of a peculiar piece of trivia. Did you know that high heels — particularly stilettos — exert immense pressure on the floor? In fact, it’s 15 times more than the pressure exerted by an elephant’s foot. Why? Because they concentrate a large amount of force on a small amount of area.

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