One of my favorite acts at the circus is the plate spinner. You know, the guy who puts one spinning plate on the pole after another until the first one begins to die down. He then runs over to the first plate again just long enough to give it a little spin to keep it going. The guy goes on spinning new plates and then old plates until he finally reaches his limit, and he has all of the plates spinning at the same time.

“What’s the secret?” you ask. Simple. The plate spinner has performed his feat so many times that he knows his limits. He knows if he adds one more plate, all will fall. Consequently, the illusion is to make you think he has reached something unobtainable. It is, in fact, all an act.

Running a business is frequently like plate spinning. Unfortunately, unlike the entertainer, we do not know in advance what our limit is, and so we are constantly frustrated by trying to add more plates.

Since I am sure you are wondering what my point is, let me bring this down to the real world. You have a business that has two products. Product “A” produces a 22% profit while product “B” produces a 5% profit. Now, what does our average everyday plate spinning businessman do?

He thinks.

He says to himself, “Hmm. If I could get product “B” as profitable as product “A,” I would make lots more money,” and off he goes to rescue product B.

Meanwhile, product “A,” which was the mainstay of the company, begins to falter and profits slip.

Now, our businessman’s heart stops because he realizes he can’t afford to let “A” slow or he’ll lose everything, so he drops his progress on “B,” rushing back to save product “A.” 

As I am sure you guess, the cycle is endless.

What’s the real lesson?

Well, listen up. I’m going to tell you something that no one else will tell you. More importantly, some of you won’t feel the importance of the moment until some years from now. It is one of the proverbial “Aha!” experiences that you sometimes have to discover yourself. Nevertheless, I’m going to try, so here goes … 


“Huh?”you say.

 Yes, that’s right. Forget “B” for now. Let it produce on its own. You, the founder and head entrepreneur, concentrate all your efforts on “A”. Let it make money and build your company. Do everything you can to focus on your winner. Then, when your profits have built up to where you can hire yourself the best manager money can find, hire him to run”A” and now you go build “B.”

You can hire good managers to keep things going, but it is very difficult to find someone who can build a concept like you can. Run with your talents, but concentrate on one major thing at a time.
I know. Some of you aren’t sure about this, but do me a favor. Save the idea and think about it. One day when you least expect it, you’ll stop what you’re doing, smile, and say, “Aha. So that’s what he meant.”

RULE #1: Never neglect your core product or service that has made you successful. This also applies to individuals–never neglect what you do best.