OK, what is zooming? You’ve perhaps zoomed in on a small-font document. Or maybe you found your house on Google Earth and zoomed in to find out what the rest of the world can learn about the way you live. Terri Lonier, who writes a solo business column for Inc.com tells about a skill, which she calls zooming, that is essential to solo entrepreneurs. I would add from experience that zooming is also a key skill for people in early stage startups.
zoom (intransitive verb per Merriam Webster): To focus a camera or microscope on an object using a zoom lens so that the object’s apparent distance from the observer changes —often used with in or out.
I really like Lonier’s metaphor. She likens it to “having the power of a Google map: in one instance you’re at 30,000 feet, dealing with the long-range vision of your company; the next you’re on ground level, addressing daily tasks and deadlines; then — zoom! — you’re back at 30,000 feet again. This facility for blink-of-the-eye refocusing is crucial for soloists who are often faced with major decisions about the future of their company one minute, then turn and confront the puzzle of which toner cartridge to buy the next.”
It certainly is true when you wear all the hats in the business. But in early startups that aren’t close to being fully staffed yet, there is a lot of hat-swapping that goes on, and having people that can zoom can make or break that fragile new entity.