Tips for Startups and Budding Entrepreneurs: How to Set Priorities

Starting a business can be overwhelming. There are so many things to do that it seems like you will never be able to get around to all of it. With so much confusion over where to start, new business owners and entrepreneurs can feel overwhelmed. The key to making sense of the chaos is to determine what your most important priorities are and base them on your goals.

Goal-Setting 101

When it comes to setting priorities, you should start with setting goals. Goal-setting is often not as easy as you might think. This fact is because there may be so many different things you want to achieve. But the wise business owner that is setting out on a new business venture should realize that you only have a certain number of hours in the day (24).

The Problem with the To Do List

With that in mind, it’s important to think about what is most important to you. There are some ways to divide your time, and many people use a “To Do” list to make sure they do what is most important. But the problem with the “To Do” list is that it is almost impossible to get everything on the list accomplished in one day.

One problem is that business owners try to list too many things on the list. They may list up to 10-15 or more items that they hope to achieve within the day. This puts an enormous strain on the new business owner to get everything done, and it also divides your time to the point where you become extremely stressed.

Making long lists of things “To Do” that will never get done defeats the purpose and creates more frustration for the new entrepreneur. If you are going to make a “To Do” list, try listing only six things rather than 15 and see if you can accomplish just those six items during the day. Even if you achieve only 3, you are making progress and moving toward your goal.

The Calendar Method

Rather than focusing on the infamous “To Do” list, many business owners decide to concentrate on the calendar instead. By creating your priorities and goals within the calendar, you accomplish a number of things.

  • Correlating your “to do” list with a specific time/date to achieve it– When you put an important objective on a calendar rather than just a standard “to do” list, you are dedicating a particular time to devote to each task, and you may be more likely to do it.
  • Committing to a specific timeline to achieve your objectives-When you write in a particular task with a date and time to reach it, you are committing to accomplishing it by that time. This not only keeps you on target with your most important goals but it also ensures that you are moving toward your bigger goals without procrastination.
  • Creating a deadline that is shareable with others– If you collaborate with teams of others who are involved in your business, you can use a calendar application to share with others. This way, everyone will be on the same page as you move toward your goals.
  • Organizing your schedule in an orderly way that makes sense-Putting your priorities on your calendar helps organize your goals and objectives in a way that keeps them organized so that they are easily accessible. You can even set reminders that will go off when you need to be reminded of them using Google Calendar and other tools that are available for mobile devices.

Choosing the Most Important Tasks

When it comes down to it, success is not measured by one overall goal but by a series of tiny steps that you take a day at a time. Some know this as “the daily grind.” A famous and successful entrepreneur, Daymond John (The Brand Within, Shark Tank), puts a message us on Facebook to his followers that states: “Keep grinding.” This is what he is referring to.

It is the daily tasks that you do that you might put on a “To Do” list that will lead to your success. But you should also schedule them on your digital calendar to devote a specific time for you to achieve them. Using the technology that is available to you today through smart devices can improve the level of achievement that you can accomplish. Both Windows and Apple have plenty of calendar applications to choose from if you are not a Google Calendar fan. But make sure and choose one that you can also use with your mobile devices so you can take it with you.

Try this Exercise for Setting Priorities

If you don’t know where to start in setting your priorities, so this simple exercise on a plain sheet of paper:

1. Make a list.– Start out by making a list of the top 10 things you want to achieve as you start your business. Don’t leave anything out if you think it is important. Make sure that you choose things that you included in your business plan or at least things that you deem important to your success.

2. Highlight the top three.– Take a highlighter and highlight the top three tasks that you think you should focus on to reach your overall goal.

3. Circle the most important.– Take a red pen and circle the most important one that you want to achieve.

4. Schedule at least 3 smaller tasks that focus on that goal for next week.– Start today. When planning your business calendar and tasks for the upcoming week, choose three jobs that focus on your goal that you circled in number 3.

5. Monitor your progress.– At the end of each week, have a way to measure your progress. If you have an online website, this can involve charting your online metrics like your web traffic or ads progress. If you have a real-world business, look at your ledger for the week and see how many new leads and clients you got as a result of your efforts.

One Brick at a Time

The key to success in any business is to set priorities. You can do this in any way that you find acceptable and that works for your business plan. Don’t steer away from your primary goal. Keep it in mind as you develop your “to do” list and calendar for every week. Remember that getting to your larger goals just takes breaking down the tasks into the smaller task that you can do one day at a time.

To Build a City

To build a city, start with the first brick. Remember that great castles have been constructed and great monuments created over a long span of time that involved one brick at a time. Build your empire one step at a time, one task at a time, and you’ll look back in a year or so and say that it was your plan all along!