Don’t Forget to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Main thing

In the words of Brigadier General Gary E. Huffman, “The main thing to remember is, the main thing is the main thing.”

in military operations  this related to “mission creep” but it is just as apt in the world of business. Essentially, it means concentrating on your core business and not being distracted by other opportunities that end up taking resources away from your main money making activity.

If your core business is no longer profitable then naturally it may be important to consider diversification, but it may be better to refocus.

Back in 1990, Harvard academics C. K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel identified the need for businesses to concentrate on their “core competencies”. This means a roofer is better off sticking to roofing and not getting involved in general building, or it might not be a good idea for a security company who are known for only supplying personnel to offer equipment as well.

This idea has been taken further since the early 1990s, as large firms began to outsource parts of their business to other companies. These activities were usually those that did not generate any revenue in themselves. These included customer service call centres, delivery, and IT. As these activities consumed resources, such as management time and money, it made sense to hand these over to another company with expertise in that field.

Outsourcing leaves businesses free to concentrate on doing what they do best, and in recent years small businesses have also been able to benefit from all the advantages that it offers. These include:


  1. Freeing up time, for both managers and existing staff
  2. Keeping costs down by reducing overheads
  3. Allowing flexibility and agility in times of rapid change and uncertainty


But it is also important to remember that the right outsourcing firm is chosen. Their values need to be your values, and their vision must be aligned with yours. Attention to detail and customer service might be two of these of these values, for it’s almost certain they form part of your main thing.