How a Journalist’s Approach Can Help Your Business

How many of you are feeling overwhelmed and not sure how you’re ever going to get through that never-ending ‘To do’ list?  After listening to and observing many entrepreneurs who are struggling to get their business started or profitable, I find that they often lack focus.  They are usually doing too much and spreading themselves too thin, because they have the shiny object syndrome.  They are busy trying to do everything and be everywhere, because they don’t know what’s the most important thing to work on.  And because they lack focus, customers and colleagues don’t know have a clear picture of why they should care and buy from them.  As I’ve learned from productivity coaches like Marcey Rader and author Brian Tracy in Bull’s-Eye: The Power of Focus, multi-tasking is not a strength and there is power in focusing on ONE thing.  By trying to do too much all at the same time, you can waste time and money, and not be great at anything. So how do you find that focus? The answer is to take a journalist’s approach in telling a great story (so you and others know why your business matters) by focusing on the five W’s and one H.

Can you focus like a good journalist?

6 Ways to Gain Focus:

Take the framework that journalists use in writing a good story by answering these six questions to help you focus on what’s important (and help customers know why your business matters):

  1. Who
    • Who are you?
    • Also, who are your ideal customers? Focus on them and don’t try to sell to everybody!   
  1. What
    • What do you really want? Make a list of your top 10 goals, then circle the ONE goal that if you achieved, is going to have a massive impact on your business.
    • Also, what products and services are you offering? Make sure it’s clear to customers and prospects what you provide. 
  1. When
    • When do you want to achieve this one goal that will drastically change your business? Try to pick a goal with no more than a 12-month deadline.
    • Also, when can customers expect to work with you? List your hours of operations and hold to those boundaries. 
  1. Where
    • Where are you going? Create a roadmap to visualize the end target.
    • Also, where are you going to conduct business?   
  1. Why
    • Why do you want to do this? Describe the driving need behind your business goal.
    • Also, why should others care about your business? Remember, customers care more about what you can do for them.
  1. How
    • How are you going to achieve this one goal? List out all the steps that you need to take to make this goal become a reality, with interim deadlines to break up all the tasks. If you’ve never done this before and don’t know all the steps, seek advice from colleagues, mentors, or hire a coach or other professional who is specialized in what you need to accomplish. If you’re committed to achieving your goal, then these resources and coaches are an investment in your business, not a cost.     
    • Also, how do customers find and work with your business?

Real-life stories of How Focus Can Win Results:

#1 – Aspiring Business Owner with Too Many Product Ideas – When doing an initial consultation with an aspiring business owner, I asked him about his product offerings. He started giving me three to five ideas of products that he could offer, including one which would require a massive capital investment and loan.  Given his business hadn’t even started yet, he didn’t have a well-defined business plan, and he didn’t have a cash cushion, I advised him to focus on the one to two products that had the most demand, shorter lead-time to create, and could generate enough cash to help seed the start of the third product with higher costs. He agreed and realized he needed a product roadmap.

#2 – Non-profit with One Clear Focus – Here’s an example of how one parent, one teacher, and one letter helped exceed goal by 10x: A couple of months ago, I kicked off the idea to bring a shoe donation drive for Sole4Souls at my son’s elementary school.  I took 15 minutes to write a concise email to the principal about the non-profit, with bullet points on how we could teach valuable lessons to the students on problem-solving, helping others, and showing gratitude.   The principal loved the idea and asked me to work with the character education teacher to coordinate the drive.  The school sent out one letter with information about the cause, why it was important, and detailed instructions on how to donate.  We significantly surpassed our goal of collecting 100 pairs of shoes…with a final total of just over 1,000 pairs of shoes! 

Collect 1,000+ shoes in three weeks!


The company’s regional manager asked us to provide tactics of why our drive was so successful. When I polled the parents and teachers, their responses showed that we had successfully answered the 5 W’s and 1 H:

  • WHO – Described the non-profit and had one teacher as the point-of-contact.
  • WHAT – Gently used shoes
  • WHEN – One deadline before Thanksgiving break.
  • WHERE – Collection box in each homeroom teachers’ room.
  • WHY – Kids who can’t afford a pair of shoes cannot go to school and obtain an education.
  • HOW – Use rubber-bands to keep shoes together and have child bring to school.

The kids understood exactly what they were doing and many reminded their parents to donate shoes before the deadline. Motivating the kids be the “referral partners” to get their parents to take action was a contributor to the success of this donation drive.


Once you can focus on answering these basic six questions, you can stop the noise from all the other things that are just not important and are distracting you from the main goal.  When you can clearly share a clear, concise message to your prospects, customers, and colleagues who need or should care about your business, your probability of success increases.  Having one prospect know exactly what you offer can make a difference in whether they purchase or not.  Being able to share with colleagues exactly what you do and how, can make a difference in their ability to refer the right clients to you to close the sale.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure why your business isn’t as successful as you want it to be (or maybe you’re stuck trying to get it off the ground and have been paralyzed with too much information), then go through this exercise of answering these questions that journalists use in telling a great story to learn how to focus on what really matters.

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