Lack of direction, not a lack of time, is the problem

Renowned motivational business coach Zig Ziglar once said: “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

How true this is. No matter how many times we complain about a lack of time, it’s important to remember that we’re no more disadvantaged than the next entrepreneur. It’s what you do with your time that counts.

It was with this sentiment in mind that The University of Southampton Science Park’s start-up incubator, the Catalyst Centre, was born. With a proven formula for success, the lucky businesses entering the programme will benefit from working alongside a non-competitive but complementary peer set, coaching on business fundamentals, access to a beneficial network and, importantly, an environment to really focus on their business. For many, this is the first opportunity to work on their business, not in it.

Last week, we formally welcomed eight new businesses to Catalyst. However, time is not on their side. They have just six, highly focused, months to make the most of their opportunity to fast-track their early business development here.

We’ve begun to introduce the teams and their concepts in our weekly blogs and will continue to do so, as well as keeping you abreast of developments and outlining some of the key topics covered in the seminar programme.

CEO of the Science Park, Peter Birkett, delivered his opening seminar to the new cohort. In outlining what lay ahead for the fledgling businesses during their Catalyst tenancy, he posed the challenging questions which all start-ups have to consider if they are to be successful.

So, here’s our Catalyst challenge to you!

If you have a new science or tech business proposition, we challenge you to find 24 hours and use it to focus on your business by asking yourself the following 20 questions around your technology, your marketplace, your leadership skills and your growth potential.

Section 1: Your Technology 

  1. Does your technology obey the laws of physics?
  2. Is your technology differentiated?
  3. Is your technology protected?
  4. Are you selling technology or a product?
  5. Who is the competition? (Beware thinking there isn’t any!)


Section 2: Your Marketplace 

  1. How well do you know your market? Is it regional, national, European or global?
  2. What is your addressable market?
  3. Who will be your first customer?
  4. Who will make the decision to buy your product/service?
  5. What is your route to market?


Section 3: Your Leadership 

  1. Do you have the leadership skills to lead your business?
  2. If not, are you teaming/partnering with people with complementary skills?
  3. Are you happy forcing yourself out of your comfort zone?
  4. Do you have the passion, energy and self-belief to succeed?
  5. Do you have the communication skills to articulate clearly the essence of your business?


Section 4: Your Growth Potential

  1. How can you grow your revenue?
  2. How dependent is it on headcount?
  3. Can you make money while you sleep?
  4. Have you got follow-on products?
  5. Is the business robust to cultural/technological change?


If this exercise doesn’t focus the mind, then perhaps it’s time to give up on it today. Wake up with a fresh pair of eyes – and another 24 hours ahead of you – and see just what you can achieve tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we wish our new Catalyst cohort the best of luck over the next six months. Stay focused!