Monday, February 6, 2012

Core v Non-Core Activities

A startup only has limited resources and needs to ensure they're invested in activities that are core to helping the business grow. I've been spending some time with Mike reviewing what I'm working on, and a question we keep asking ourselves is how core is each activity to achieving the goals we have for Shoes of Prey and Sneaking Duck. Where can I free up more time to spend focusing on what I need to do most: marketing, raising capital, business development deals, hiring - all activities that will help the business to continue growing quickly.

The activities that come up as non-core include speaking engagements, writing for other websites, networking/non-core business meetings, TechTalks, even writing on That said, there is still a lot of value in these non-core activities, particularly the latter two but where I can streamline what I'm doing I should. The Tech Talks have been working well as a way to network and meet fellow entrepreneurs without having 5 meetings a week to do this. The blog acts as a good reflection and planning tool, particularly if I write on topics that are core to what we're working on at the time. To help streamline the first two activities I only write for other sites where I can still use the posts on and I'm only going to do larger speaking engagements that don't require significant preparation.

How do you evaluate and free up time to ensure your maximising the amount of time you're spending on core activities?

Cross posted to Startupsmart.

Image credit


  1. Hi Michael,

    Interesting post! My only view is that you may be underestimating how much the blog/tech talks/speaking engagements etc add to the profile and attraction of your business. It allows Shoes of Prey/Sneaking Duck to adopt a introspective personality and to pitch a corporate voice into the market that is not easily found. If you are running a 'purple cow', the only way I know about your intention is by hearing you talk about it and it is a great way of enticing custom. It definitely is the reason why I raise Shoes of Prey as a worthy discussion topic at dinner tables. One of my friends actually said to me the other day that her mum (a 50 something barrister) independently spoke to her about your site and she was like "oh, I've heard about them!". I'm sure there is some guilt associated with the time spent on these activities as their influence is not measurable but I think soft marketing strategies like the blog allow you to build strong relationships over time which will serve you well into the future.

    That said, if you strike a deal with someone who needs 40,000 custom shoes tmw, the blog will seem like small fry - my view though, is that if they end up saying yes, part of that yes will be because of the blog! Unfortunately, that probably won't be readily apparent but I'm sure that any prospective large customer would flick through this as a way of a background research - perhaps in their underwear on the couch on a Saturday afternoon. You never know!

    Keep up the awesome work :)



  2. Hey Michael, great post. I've noticed on the blog lately that you've been hiring a lot lately, so there must be lots of core work stuff you're doing at the moment :)

    I like that you and Mike talk about this stuff - it's also the way I find it useful to make sure what I'm working on is relevant. Retrospectives like that make a big difference.



  3. Defintifly in favour of non-core;)

  4. Hey Michael. Great Post! Just found your blog and enjoying your commentary on the issues facing business startups. Keep up the great work.

  5. Good thoughts Saf. Definitely going to keep blogging, just aiming to make it efficient so I can achieve similar output with less input.

    Thanks Steve, hiring is definitely a super core task and we're thrilled to be brining on more awesome people. :D

    Thanks for your kind words Dr. Preiss.

  6. A really, really good way to filter speaking opportunities is to require payment - works a treat!

  7. Hah, that is a good suggestion Ian. I might start to do that more...