Turning the Page to 2016 Priorities

Beginning each January, new resolutions decorate our mirrors, refrigerators, and screensavers.

End February, guilt sets in. Almost 20% of the year is over and we’re no closer to our goals.

How did that happen?

With multi-year objectives and 18-hour days, entrepreneurs, like writers, have an almost impossible task. How to manage time and effort to create impact and generate sustainable momentum that eventually leads to sales?

If you learned entrepreneurship the way I learned writing (by the seat of your pants), you’ve already tossed away 40%+ of effort. Too bad, so sad.

Until you plan, organize, and PRIORITIZE your time to accomplish sustainable, measurable, and achievable results, you’re throwing precious months away, too.

Using the Eisenhower categorization method (important/urgent/both/neither) applied to Pareto’s famous 80/20 rule (80% of results come from 20% of effort), you can certainly discern which tasks are BOTH important and urgent.

Which ones are they?

  • Driving revenue and profits
  • Developing new markets and customers
  • Cutting costs dramatically
  • Breaking your company out of its rut

Then rinse and repeat. No one promised excitement in the formative years of an enterprise.

But what about the important, not-so urgent ones? Who handles those when you’re a one-person enterprise? How do you handle the inevitable tug between marketing and engineering tasks?

Decide which 20% of the 20% of the 20% needs your focus NOW. Then ACT.

Either time will work for you…or against you.

Here in Silicon Valley, we envision a logarithmic hockey stick curve.

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The sweet spot of a business is when the smallest incremental effort yields a geometric growth in results. When the one person you ask for help not only delivers, but delivers huge. When the key market segment you researched results in sales beyond your wildest dreams. When minions pile on behind you as if you are Steve Jobs reincarnate, excited to add to your dream without demanding more of your time.

And for those who seek financing, this is often the time to solicit new funds through a public or private offering. After all, by now you’ve established your premise, set the stage for dramatic action, have the key players in place, and want to shout your success to the heavens. Like me, you’ve finally learned how to tell your story.

(But even then, you have to stay on your toes. Just launched—a public, private marketplace for funding. Have you heard about it yet? Few have, but it is a game-changer here in Silicon Valley and beyond.)

Remember, you chose entrepreneurship because you wanted to make your own decisions and chart your own path. That means understanding the essence of prioritization, and making it work for you over the long run, not just one day—or even one year—at a time.

It’s a skill every successful entrepreneur needs.

I depict this typical start-up dilemma in Private Offerings: A Silicon Valley Novel, my fictional, insider’s guide to understanding business.

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