Why Priority-Setting Should Be Your Top Priority
Most entrepreneurs are in a state of chaos. Everything needs to be done at the same time. Financing, people, product, customers, business models, technology, operations, finance, cash and the list goes on. Entrepreneurs are in a constant state of hole plugging because you lack financial and human resources. That is the nature of the beast. But what you can change is how you manage the overlapping tasks that are demanding to get done.
Setting priorities is the first and foundational step. But ask entrepreneurs to “set priorities” and they will scoff at you. “We can’t set priorities. We have to do everything to build the business.” This perspective, while understandable, prevents entrepreneurs from making meaningful progress. It becomes Whack-a-Mole, with you taking a hammer to the next issue that raises its ugly head instead of implementing a focused strategy.
Think about it. Is there any business that doesn’t have more to do than they have time? Doesn’t every business need to set priorities and figure out what has to come first, second and third or what can’t be done? Would anyone in corporate America have a job if they said, “We need to do everything.” Entrepreneurs fail to see this. This is a recipe for failure.
Especially with limited resources, you must decide the organization’s top priorities and align what resources you have to processes those priorities. Does that mean that you neglect the rest of the business? Of course not. It does mean, however, that when you set priorities, you treat them distinctly and with more focus and energy than other activities. When you set something as a priority, you create an operating structure (such as the one outlined below) that brings the organization’s focus and accountability to that priority. In addition, these top priorities require your best thought and the inputs and expertise from various constituents. It is not only about setting priorities, but building the processes that bring the focus, substance, expertise and accountability of your organization to these priorities.