When Yifan Zhang spoke at Spark & Hustle Boston about Gym Pact, her new company that penalizes members financially when they skip workouts, several hands shot up with questions about potential alliances.

“Would you consider offering nutritional counseling?”
“How about providing life coaching?”
“Can you promote workout clothes?”

All good ideas for a customer base focused on healthy living, but Yifan rejected each of them.

Instead, she explained, Gym Pact has to prove and expand its core business before branching out into other revenue streams.

Michael Alter shared the same philosophy on how he started and grew SurePayroll, which is now the leader in serving small business customers with paperless payroll solutions.

This week I was offered a lucrative opportunity to promote an impressive financial literacy program, for which we’d earn a considerable fee. I said no, which prompted promises of a better offer. My decision was final — not because I don’t like money, but because I have to stay laser focused on what we do.

My companies, Women For Hire and Spark & Hustle, help women launch and advance their careers through employment and small business success.

Sure, it could be argued that we’re well poised to sell professional attire and childcare advice and money management courses, but all of that takes us off our core focus. As a small business owner, focus is everything.

When you allow yourself to be pulled in a zillion directions, you wind up at best with mediocre products and services. It’s more difficult to brand yourself. You confuse your potential customers.

No matter how tempting, say no to the stuff that’s off your chosen path.

Feel free to post your questions on my Facebook page.

Tory Johnson