The Importance of Focus in B2B Startups


You can’t be everything for everyone.Gary Swart, oDesk CEO

It’s a common problem. Because entrepreneurs collect data on ten or fifteen problems during the problem interviews, and because a lot of these problems seem solvable, they try to fix two, three or more problems at a time.

B2B startups need to focus on a single (one) problem that really matters. It’s not because you can solve a problem that you should solve it. As an entrepreneur, you must always think about your business focus. Lack of focus kills startups.

Admetric → Blurred messaging

As CEO of Admetric, Martin Huard met with stakeholders in many retail verticals. Martin and his partner were trying to test as many markets as possible to find the largest (and best) opportunity for their company.

Through research, they were able to find ten different uses for their digital signage technology. When Admetric started selling, they had pitches for ten different versions of their product — one for each product vertical.

Their efforts were diffuse and had little impact. Because they never emphasized a single problem, they never created a consistent unique selling proposition.

A startup cannot perfect its pitch, solution and selling processes if it focuses on too many customer types initially.

How to Focus your B2B Startup

Start with less. If you’re not solving a large enough problem, you will know right away when you start selling. You must find the core value of your solution to find your one or two main features. Your entire success will be based on these features.

Complete solutions like Intuit, Salesforce or Taleo, didn’t become complete overnight. You need to find a beachhead before thinking about building a platform.

You have to think small. You must choose one or two concrete problems to solve and then solve them brilliantly, because your business will never be successful if it tries to be all things to all people.


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This sampler covers the differences between B2B and Business-to-Customer (B2C) product-market validation, shows you how to define your vision for success, find early adopters, select market opportunities and assess a venture's risk. Download The First 6 Chapters Today »