Focus, Focus, Focus!

Starting an eCommerce business, or any business for that matter, can be a difficult task. Focus is critical! If we try to do everything at once, we can only expect mediocrity in pretty much everything.

Keep things narrow at first. Focus on the smallest possible problem you can solve that will potentially be useful. One of the biggest problems many new companies make is trying to do too many things at once. This makes life really difficult and can impede our progress. Focusing on a small niche has so many advantages: with much less work you can be the best at what you do. Small things almost always turn out to be much bigger when you zoom in.

The concept of focus is really logical; however, most of us seem to have a resistance to focus. Just remember, when you get to be #1 in your particular niche market and then find that niche to be too small, you can always broaden your focus.

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80 Replies to “Focus, Focus, Focus!”

  1. Focus is how you move toward your vision. Vision shows where you are going and focus is what helps you take the necessary steps to get there.

    Without a vision people perish, so it only stands to reason that a business would perish without the focus to move toward the vision.

  2. This makes total sence. But knowing that your niche is a good one would be vital, otherwise you might be wasting your precious time. How to make sure?

  3. Thanks again for the priceless info.
    It is very hard to not be all things to everyone with my business. With a men’s clothing store it is very hard when you want to have everything for every possible customer.
    Inventory can be most of the work.
    Hard to find time to blog,link,read new ways to do things,and market. Then I have another full time job,and family.
    Just trying not to loose too much money in my first year.

  4. Pingback: Do I Really Need a Blog for an eCommerce Business?
  5. Hi guys and girls!

    I’m a newbie here.

    So i’d like to know if your income reduced because of the world financial crisis?

    1. In many ways, things are getting better for online marketers. Consumers and businesses are looking for new and more cost effective ways to participate in commerce. “E”-commerce and online marketing are the solutions many people are discovering now more than ever before. Welcome to the show!

  6. Lack of focus is the natural enemy of success. Light without focus is pleasant. Light with focus is a laser beam and can actually cut through steel. In the business world I need to be focused like a laser on that which will grant me success.

  7. I think focus is a main key for success in anything you do. I agree on focusing on the little things, and would add that it is always important to have the end in mind. The overall goal is the main driver that the little things lead to, however, laser focus on those little things is what will eventually get you to the main goal.
    Great Post Nate
    Aaron

    1. I’ve thought about this concept a lot and think you’re right – you have to start with some end in mind, or at least a “dream” of some sort. One way to establish that “dream” or “best case scenario” is to find other businesses out there that are doing what you want to do. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they have done to be successful, or at least use them as an example that it CAN be done.

      One of my favorite quotes goes something like this:

      That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well. – Abraham Lincoln

      With this “dream” in mind, you then have to break in down in to little steps and focus on the day to day performance goals that will help you reach the outcome you want.

      Thanks for the comment.

  8. Focus has always been difficult for me when starting new projects. I tend to brainstorm lots of ideas and try to get them all out there at once.

    Also, it’s not important to have everything in place before starting a project. You can always add to and grow your business as the need arises.

    As Les Brown says, “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great!”

  9. It is all about focus. I will definately have to try to focus on the main tasks ahead of me, and chip away at them. I’ve got the bad habit to want to get everything done at the same time, and to be hard on myself if I don’t get all of it taken care of. We all know now that we have to be realistic and prioritize. So Focus will be my new model.

  10. Great article. Exactly what i was trying to do. i was trying to list almost everyhting I could think of on ebay to sell. I started to finally realize that this was going to be way more work than anticipated. Thanks to Nate and Prosper learning I have learned to focus on 2 niches for my wife and myself, and it is going alot better.

  11. Very good advice. Not too long ago I started a business witha partner/friend and we tried to do too many things too fast, and opened the business way too early as we had not done enough planning. I eventually had to leave the business as my partner pushed me and my ideas away. I now have the wisdom from that experience to take things slow and make sure all the plans are in place first.

  12. Focus is a process. In order to focus, one must be able to logically chart a thought process. It would be wise to write down what you intend to do, and use a series of if-then-else statements in association to what you believe you are focused on. You may be surprised to learn it is a part only of something more profound. It is a way to learn what you should be focused on.

  13. It makes a very good point, i know perfectly well how hard it can be to try to do too many things at once. You become confused and suddenly your bad at everything.

  14. The article illustrates the point. It dealt with only one idea-FOCUS. Consequently, the idea was conveyed in a concise, to the point manner, with no wasted words. The concept of focus is very important. I know because in my own life, I have been working on projects and trying to do too many things at once. As a result, I ended up running around in circles. I learned to focus on one problem at a time and was able to accomplish more. Thanks for the succinct reminder!

  15. The World Series starts tonight. Keep your eye on the ball. We all know that one. It does seem that we do have either resistance to focus and need to remind ourselves or have someone else remind us. Humans can process many things at once. My gosh if I am not muti-tasking I may slip behind everyone. Great article and many great comments.

  16. It makes good sense to tackle one or two items at a time. It’s easy to get “antsy” and want to do it all at once.

    Thanks.

  17. Wow Tonya you put me to shame doing so much. I can hardly stay focussed with one thing. Just as I’m building my web side the kids come in and need attention. Then the post, the bills, the filing (maybe), the car, the dogs, the music lessons etc etc . So much “noise” it’s hard to keep focussed on the important rather than the urgent which may or may not be important. Also I can think of so many directions I want to go in. However, Nate, you are an expert at picking pertinent learning resources to point me in the right direction and put me back on track

    I will try not to be so flaky !

  18. This article and all the tips are great! It is so hard to focus with so many things at hand: 5 kids (home-schooled, ages 3,5,7,9 and 10), new website with many businesses in it, keeping house, etc.. I am having a hard time with keeping any of it simple but I think I am going to work at devoting certain times of the day for each of my tasks at hand. I am also going to try to not add more to my plate, which I am very prone to do. I am going to start with prioritizing and go from there with Patsy’s STING idea. 🙂

    These are some things I do and am working on doing:

    * I write up my list of things I want to accomplish for the week on Sunday so I can look back at it throughout the week.
    * I have detailed lesson plans laid out with what I expect from each child each day on Excell sheets with boxes for them to check as they complete each school assignment. (I don’t completely re-write them each weak, I just make the small changes needed such as page numbers in certain books)
    * I do this with their chore lists as well.
    * I am thinking about doing something similar with my work so I can keep it as focused as I keep the rest of my home.
    * Since I have many different businesses going I am going to get individual files and file boxes for each so they do not get mixed together and tax time wont be such a hastle.

    I think with everything having it’s own “place” and time will make it easier to focus on each part of my life.

  19. My largest financial success was as a real estate broker in NYC. I spent 12 years specializing in selling small to mid sized buildings in a 20 block area. Everytime I tried to expand my market my production went down. Now that I’m in e commerce I keep trying to go too big. From what I see it’s critical to keep the blinders on and stay focused. Not very easy. But I keep seeing tremendous successes from those with a very narrow niche.
    I keep a sign on my wall where I see it everyday. It says FOCUS

  20. Amazing! I thought I was the only one who did this. And I thought something was definitely wrong with me. This lack of focus is in every aspect of my life. I just want to do it all, but I am beginning to get the point. You have to start small and build. Stay focused on the task at hand, finish it and continue to build.
    I am having trouble deciding on a product, but the research I am learning to do is helping with that. All of the comments were helpful! Two that I wrote in my journal were STING and “Focus is the common sense of knowing that chasing more than one rabbit will leave you with none.” I think I can attest to that from experience.
    I have started writing tasks down for each day, and marking them off as they are finished. That helps.
    Thanks Nate and everyone for the good article and commets.

  21. FOCUS…..is something I need to get implemented quickly into my present life if I aiming to soon become successful in a internet business.

    Focusing is another factor that I need to get put in place ASAP. And I know this will take immediate ACTION since I tend to loose focus on my task at hand and bounce off to work at another task or project very often.

  22. What great advice and feedback.We are new at this and what a learning curve! We have been trying to come up with as many new ideas as possible while learning about a new industry, no wonder we feel confused sometimes.It makes sense to focus on 1 thing at a time but it is easy to get distracted.We really liked Patsy’s STING method and will definately try it! Someone said to us recently “don’t try to catch 2 rabbits at the 1 time” and from now on we are not going to.

  23. This appears to be a major topic for most of us. Focus!!! Yes, I do tend to get carried away with the multitude of possibilities. I’ve had difficulty focusing on one thing at a time for eons. Since I was born I think. I just blamed it on being a Gemini – curious and constantly thinking up new ideas. I like what Cassie and Rick had to say – I do sometimes feel like I’m going to explode!

  24. The thing about focus, it’s like looking into outerspace, you have to know what you are looking for to find what you need to focus on.

    We have so many ideas racing around us, but we definately need to slow down and focus or we’ll explode with the energy of trying to do it all while not focusing on anything totally.

  25. Focus is something that is hard for me to maintain. Reading all of the comments has been helpful and great advise. I think that having priorities and setting a timeline will help me. I’m sure we all agree that focus can be very productive.

  26. I’m back – rereading this article and the posted comments! When Nate reassigned this article, it was because I was still going in many directions. I have three distinctly different product ideas. The need to pick the one product that I am most passionate about is incredibly important to the success of my business.
    Each area of the business development requires my full attention. When I am doing my assignments, working on my website, or developing supplier relationships and have a question, I need to STOP and write down the question. I then need to be sure that I follow-up with the correct person to get the resolution to the question.
    The one thing that I have developed since working in this program, is confidence that I CAN make this work!

  27. Two weeks in and finding the learning very intense and difficult to absorb even though I have a bricks and morter business background. I am determined to conquer the lessons even if I have to go at slightly slower pace.

  28. The ability to focus is one that I really need to “focus” on. 🙂 I am at the beginning of this journey and I hope that I am up to the task.

  29. This is a really a great topic and good comments!

    There are few things as self-sabotaging as trying to cover too many projects at the same time. I could be the poster boy for the problems this causes as I have had an almost manic propensity to strike off in any number of directions at once rather than focus my efforts on individual steps along the way to my main goals.

    It’s gotten better and having written goals helps, but focusing is a discipline I recognize that I am in need of cultivating and honing. Learning to focus and the benefits it brings is one of the many values gained by undertaking this eCommerce venture.

  30. I am now starting to focus on my tasks at hand. 1 at time. I was heading in to many different directions. Now I’m taking things one at a time and planning on or thinking out what I want my outcome to be. Planning on my focus day by day. Thanks.

  31. So many comments hit home to me. The tips were good and knowing that others have the same feelings helps me to settle down and be able to focus.

  32. Ok, Ok, I get it! I will try to slow down and focus on smaller tasks as I learn this ecommerce thing. It’s only week 2. I just feel like I have my direction, a niche where the numbers work, one I’m interested in and know a lot about, a good domain name, a list of suppliers to begin contacting, and I’m ready to get going! I was told when I signed on that I had to commit to having my site up within one month. I don’t see how that will happen at this pace. Does anyone else feel like this? Am I just crazy? Ok, Focus, Focus….maybe slow and steady Does win the race! Time will tell.

  33. As I started reading all the comments, I started to laugh, and relax.
    I guess I am not the only one who struggles with focus and gets overwhelmed with the BIG picture.

    Surely it’s much easier to swallow a burger one bite at a time.

    I have trained many people in my previuos business to learn one step at a time, Yet I to have this bursting energy and I want to jump into everything all at once.

    It must be natural thing. Taking a step back and understanding the benefits to a step by step approach isn’t anything new, but but making it a “consious realization” really reduces stress, plus it’s easier to note progress.

    This was excellent homework, Thanks

  34. Thank you Nate.

    I am incredibly focused. Here are some things that have helped me:

    Eating healthy. As a nutritional consultant I walk my talk. This really helps with feeling incredibly well and being very clear.

    Know your desires: Put them down on paper and prioritize them. Are they congruent with your life purpose.

    Rest and Relaxation: Take time for reflection for in silence you get to know yourself more.

    Simplify your life: Declutter and make space for what really matters.

    I could list more but I have listed the important ones.

  35. I think focus goes back to goal setting. You can’t focus if you don’t know what to focus on. I seem to have that problem. First I need to figure out what I need to focus on before I can focus.

  36. I agree that focus is really the mainstay of our daily lives and how we preform our tasks whether it’s driving a car, or grocery shopping, cooking, or working your computer. I know that by learning to use my computer my focus is getting better. Keep things simple and you can focus better.

  37. I warned my coach that I am the worst student because I can’t seem to Focus! It is really hard for me with 3 kids…my oldest being 5 years old! For me, my ideas come alive at night. This works great for me because I can play with my kids during the day and work when they go to bed! I need to make a “to do list” and stick to it! I too will try STING and see how it works for me! Thanks for the great ideas and insight!

  38. Thank you for the reminder!!! I can totally relate to Margaret with so many things pulling you in different directions. I really liked Patsy’s STING idea. I’m going to try that. Thanks again.

  39. Now, I am really inspired! I know my biggest problem with the internet is focus, becasue even other people tell me so. I have just written down Patsy’s points (no21) in the front of my diary, and all thse posts together with a talk given on a DVD by Mike Filsaime, very successful internet marketer, on focus, I finally believe it. Thanks everyone.

  40. I finally found a focal point! With all these great comments and advice I feel that I am not alone and can just do one thing at a time. I still can’t help that panic feeling I get when I can’t get something to work properly I’m not understanding something in my site building process. I found that breathing is so important and to get up and walk away to change my focus for a short time
    like getting a cup of coffee or going out in the sunshine clears my head.

  41. I have to agree with how hard it is to stay focused — working all day; getting home as the kids are getting home — just all the regular stuff you have to do everyday. It was very difficult to stay focused — I am just trying to concentrate on one thing at a time — I really WANT this website business to work. I do try but it is pretty overwhelming along with everything else — I will concentrate on just one thing at a time!!

  42. Focus is not only the key to success but to life in general. As everyone has stated above without focus we begin to move in many different directions like a pinball in the machine. Learning about focus re-minds me to meditate where we must focus on the breath and not everything outside of us or the “monkey mind”, where our thoughts are moving from one to train to the other. When we focus we become centered with ourselves and being centered brings us to our true gift and that is prosperity.

  43. Focus is essentially common sense of knowing that chasing more than one rabbit will leave you with none. Focusing on one goal every day is enough accomplishment along with helping family and friends with their goals.
    Stillwater Nutritionals,
    Randy Green

  44. Thank you all for your inspiring words and stories. Now that I have finally found something to focus on I can use this advice to move forward.

  45. My problem is I want to see the forest and skip over the trees. I have never heard of KISS defined this way. It has always been KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!!! Believe me STUPID is the way I am feeling. I want the site up and running and constantly I am running into road blocks with things I have never heard of before. To be honest I am having a very hard time focusing on the small things. I know that I had to crawl before I walked. Seems like sometimes I am having a tough time getting up on my knees. Forest Gump said it best when he said “I am not a smart man”. However I know what I want and I know that I am going to focus, focus, focus and I WILL SURVIVE AND SUCCEED!!!

  46. All your comments in this article are valid ones and very useful. I know for me, as a new eCommerce business starter, it will be a difficult task doing something I have never done before. Because it is very hard to Focus on which product to start with I will be following the suggestios you have given me. You tell us to concentrate on what we love to do and when you have as many hobby interests as I do, it is hard to decide which niche will be the one to start with. My two favorite suggestions from this articles’ responses are Lisa Herbik’s, KISS, and Patsy’s, STING, concepts to keep ourselves Focused. I will be using both of these to get started writing my goals, doing my research, finding suppliers that drop ship the merchandise, handle returns, and start working on my Business Journal. Thank you for all your comments.

  47. Focus is the most challenging thing in dealing with the many different elements of operating one’s own business. These elements, I’ll call them, range from the mundane drudgery of money, financing and cash flow, to the most important 200 things you must do to get and keep the website going and to get and keep customers, which is the purpose of a business. But it requires pulling together a lot of details. For years I operated a large business that I built from scratch. My focus at that time was on assuring that everyone of our staff had the information and assistance to go ahead with their projects. Now, I am the staff. Focus for me is gained by making lists in categories by need. Then prioritizing the categories of need. Then working on each according to need. Clever, huh.
    That sounds good in theory, but there are always uncontrollable, unpredicted distractions that must be tended to. Or the other problem I have; I realize I’ve been focusing too long on one thing to the disadvantage of another thing. Then after a quck panic attack, I go back to work. There is a balance to be struck, and I’m still learning how to do that.
    So productively focusing is the real key. And doing so is much different than one suspects. People say to eliminate distractions. But then customers are distractions from my focus on myl lists. And I can’t eliminate them. Frustration and stress have become my friends. I came to know them a long time ago. I have decided one distraction I can eliminate is that of worrying about frustration and stress. A little stress gives one an edge. But let’s not take that one too far.
    I’m hoping to learn more about organized focus. And seeing the big picture while at the same time seeing the little pictures that make up the big picture. Both are necessary. That’s a very valuable trick to learn.

  48. This is our first day with our new coach, so I am thinking of a billion things that need to be done. Even crazier, is that we are taking a 2 week vacation in Mexico, starting tomorrow. I’m fraid I will come back and be overwhelmed just getting caught up on other work that has piled up and will not be able to focus on building our new e-commerce business. We are taking our laptop, will hopefully have some E-mail and internet access so we won’t feel totally out of the loop when we return. I know a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and I guess this is the first step. I hope that by reading this article I will be able to narrow my focus, enjoy my vacation and be ready to come back to work on one thing at a time. We will work on our assignments while we’re gone. Thanks for the focus.

  49. I really appreciate your comments, and heartily agree–although I have so many ideas right now it’s hard to keep that focus you talk about. I tend to get distracted sometimes and head off in other directions without even realizing it, but I’m learning. I find that it helps me to just limit my to-do list and keep it right by my side until one task is completed. And I also–don’t laugh–use a kitchen timer, set it to a certain number of minutes, and make myself concentrate on the task at hand until it goes off. I promise myself a little break or a little web surfing when my timer goes off–just for a few minutes–then I come back and start over the for next item on my agenda.

    It all goes along with this method I read about called STING:

    S=Select just one thing to do.
    T=Time yourself.
    I=Ignore everything else.
    N=No breaks.
    G=Give yourself a reward.

    Try it; it works! Great for procrastinators and all of us who tend to run off in different directions all at once!

  50. This was a really good article for me to read at this time. I,like many others, am new at this and learning to use the computer for other things other than games and email is a whole new learning curve. I am very excited about my new business but with working and the many other activities I am involved in I have felt overwhelmed at times and seem to lose my focus. Reading this makes me realize that all I need to do is take a deep breath, take one thing at a time, focus on learning each new skill and everything will fall in place.

  51. I’ve owned several Business, and been a manager in a very large communication company. We were trained in people management,and implementing engineering specifications. You merely had to follow the hand-
    books that were written for every aspect of the job.
    However in this job everything is different. You must focus on every detail of the endeavor. Every detail is left to you and you alone.
    I’ve found myself in a position of having to along with my coach organize, every detail. I’ve not only had to focus on products but learn how to use my computer for something besides e-mail. Its been a real experience.

  52. I’m just beginning at this and appreciate how immense the possibilities of what lies ahead. This can be overwhelming if you try to do to many things at once.The need for focus allows us to accomplish small successes which can we can build on.After all even the largest of building foundations begins with one small brick to build on.

  53. I feel a lot better after reading all of those comments about getting started and staying focused.

    And I agree, there is so much to learn and every day life tries to pull you away from doing your assignments, getting up the website and starting to actually see some money come in. It can be at times so overwhelming!!!

    To stay focused for me, I like to start with a reading or listening assignment so I don’t get behind and keep my mentor happy. Then I work on my product to put up on the website and my husband works on the website. Doing it that way, I don’t remain ignorant of something in the materials given by all of these smart, intelligent mentors; that could be the very thing I missed in putting together my product and website.

  54. Thanks for the “reality check”. I was so excited and had so many ideas, I was ready to have a plethora of products/services to start. I know its much better to focus my energy and newly acquired skills on just one really good idea to begin. 🙂

  55. It is really hard to focus for me. What with taking care of my mother who is elderly and living with me, trying to get this website up and ready to make money, trying to get product on the website and to learn all I need to from my coach and the resource advisors and Now I am in the process of selling my home and moving back to my hometown. I have to pack up boxes to get my house ready to put on the market this week along with my homework but I will get it all done because I will FOCUS!!!!

    Time is of the essence for both things to be done. I am trying to solicit some help with packing. My coach has had the utmost patience with me. His business savvy is great and I don’t feel I could have gotten this far without him and the experienced resource advisors. To not have any business experience when I started this adventure, I do feel I have made tremendous steps toward a successful business. I do know it will take a concentrated effort to complete the job on my part. There are some things to do yet.

  56. You get alot of feed back from all your replys. This bussiness does seem to be alot of time and effort at the begining. More like overwhelming! But if I take it, one thing to do at a time, I know I can get it done. Time and effort, its all free.

  57. Great to read all this. Focus is always at the heart of success. Being clear about what to focus on is sometimes my problem since so many important things are demanding your attention as a working parent. I sympathize with ‘Steve’. Children are not impressed with material things if they don’t have YOUR focus. You can’t push a 2-year old away when they need you and hope that when they are old enough (and still thinking about why you used to push them away) they can rationalize it and it will be OK. But you do need to pay the bills and provide, so I was lucky enough to have my mum around when my kids were little and she could occupy them when I had work to do. There’s a lot to be said for extended families, I think.
    Good luck. I feel for you.
    I’d better focus on my blog now!

  58. Have to start again – this time focussing on one topic at a time. When starting out it is so easy to become distracted – so many offers and ideas come flooding through by email. So focus.. focus…focus.

  59. Focus is very important. I know sometimes I have a hard time staying focused on the immediate item that needs done because I will start thinking of the big picture than my mind and focus begin to wander. The problem is when that happens eventually you sit back and find that you have gotten nowhere. The best thing to do is make a list of what needs done and check it off as you go and stay focused on the one item and finish it before moving to the next. One other big thing that I have had a hard time with, and anyone doing this while working full time and with young children might appreciate: I have a real hard time explaining to a two year old who comes up to you and says “Daddy, you want to play with me” or “Daddy, come sit here with me” in that oh-so-innocent and cute voice, that there is something else I need to do. Not only do they not understand why you can’t play with them, it makes me want to cry, so I usually break down and play with them. The biggest thing is to be sure you always keep the focus point of why you are doing what you do.

  60. After reading what everyone else is saying I don’t feel so stupid. I thought I was the only one that was trying to do everything at one tine. I realize that it is essential to take it one step at a time and “Focus” on that until you have completed that item. Then move on to the next, and so on. I think by using this method I will be able to accomplish much more with my website, and make my website work for me.

    Thanks for the info. Great comments.

  61. I totally agree with the above comment “keep it simple”. As I am in the infancy stage of ecommerce, I am finding that focusing on several products is a chore, therefore I will need to focus on the core concept of the business. At this point selling a few products that will add value and make money is where my focus will be.

  62. Definitely focus is important, one thing should always be done at a time, it gets confusing when you try do to many at a time, and results are not as good as if you were working only oin one task, mosty negative, and after awhile everything becomes just impossible to handle.
    One thing a time will keep you focused.

  63. I have so much going on at times it is hard to focus. I realize I need to keep it simple as I go thru the learning curve. Thanks for the reminder.

  64. I like the old maxim KISS:
    Keep
    It
    Simple,
    Silly!

    Because I am so excited with my new business, I have tons of energy. I find am really a natural at getting unfocused in my tasks by running in several directions at once. it really is a sure set up for frustration. Focus is a great topic and I need to remember KISS!

  65. Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. We want to be all things to all people. I just created a site, and I have been tempted to do it all. I can see that doing it all for the masses means doing it poorly and reaching only a few (friends and family?). Thanks for the reminder on keeping things simple.

  66. Once we decided what we wanted to market online, all kinds of ideas started rolling in. Not only our own, but friends and family wanted to contribute as well. We can already see that it could become quite overwhelming if we don’t focus and take it one step at a time. Our first goal is to find one primary dropshipper that we can start out with, and whose products we can keep in mind as we develop our website. It is exciting, though, to think about the potential for broadening our horizons as we become more experienced and skilled.

  67. This is very true. When I first started my website, I was trying to list as many possible products as I could. It wasn’t easy to sort through all the different products, find prices, figure out shipping costs, etc. I finally realized that a majority of what I had listed was not even selling, therefore it was almost worthless to waste all the time listing them and I could have spent more time working on ways to market the certain items that were selling. Nowadays I am more focused on marketing and selling the items that are desired, rather than trying to find and list new items. When you first start out in business it can be very easy to become overwhelmed with things to do, so the simpler you make it, the better your chance to succeed.