What do you want to do with your business?
If you’re like most business owners I meet that can be kind of a tricky question.
Some people haven’t thought about where they want the business to go, but they have an endless to-do list when it comes to daily and weekly work.
Others that I talk to have a clear vision of where they want their business to go (1 billion dollars in revenue, etc.) and they have endless lists of things they want to do as a way to get there.
And you of course have those people that fall in between.
The common thread for most of the folks in those situations is that they have to-do lists.
Do you have one?
I’m guessing you do, but while that list is a great tool it can lead to some detriment. If it gets out of control it can hold you and your business back.
Here are some tips for prioritizing your to-do list so you’re accomplishing things and moving forward.
1. Always Know The Vision
This is #1 on the list for a reason. When you and everyone else in the company know your vision it’s much easier to make decisions. If the vision for your company is to be the #1 seller of mens footwear in the world then starting a womens line is probably not going to be high on the priority list.
A vision can be tweaked over the years, but the more you change it the more difficult it becomes to make decisions. Create a clear vision for what you want to achieve and you’ll realize that it’s not your to-list that’s broken, but your vision.
It’s easy to take things off the list if they don’t fit the vision.
2. Determine Upside Potential & Risk
This one is obvious, but it’s still easy to forget about it when you’re working on the day-to-day grind in the business. Should you be working on launching that Twitter account if the upside isn’t really that big?
That’s for you to decide, but it’s important to look at the upside and the risk when discussing what your business should be doing.
3. Access Resource Requirements
I know this one gets overlooked. It’s difficult sometimes and I get that. I go through it all the time. But we see it all the time in blogging.
A business sees the value in blogging. They commit to a strategy. They publish posts for a few weeks and months, but then it starts to fall off. They don’t have the resources to stick with it.
That happens with all kinds of projects. We underestimate what it will really take to achieve the results we want.
Whatever the effort is that you prioritize for your business make sure you have a good understanding of the requirements that you’ll have for resources.
4. Determine Timeline Requirements
And sometimes it will take longer than you expect at first to achieve your goal with a new effort. Again, we see it in blogging. Businesses start and give up after about six months. It really takes 6-12 months to see the results coming in from organic search and it can take more depending on how often you post.
That’s typically true in a lot of efforts to grow a business. It’s usually not weeks and even a few months. It’s usually several months or years to see the results you want.
5. Laser Focus
When you do have something at the top of your priority list it’s good to have laser focus on that. When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in the ’90s one of the first things he did was to cut down on the number of products they were producing. He implemented a laser focus and it worked out really well with the launch of the iMac.
Do one thing at a time when it comes to your priority list. You can do multiple things, but the more you do the more things will get muddled.
6. Regular Check-Ins
When your team is working on an effort make sure there is a schedule for regular check-ins. You need to be on the pulse of things to make sure they have the resources they need. You need to know if there are any indicators that it might not work out. You need to know if they’re sticking with the vision or if things are wandering a bit.
7. Regular Audits
It’s also good to audit your priority list every six months to a year. Things seem to change often in our world. You don’t want to make changes to the strategy every month or even every few months. But every year it’s good to check-in on what you’re working on as top priorities to see if anything has changed in the business, the industry and with your customers.
8. Spring Cleaning
With a priority list it really won’t hurt to have a list and to keep things on it, but I think it’s good to see if anything should be removed from the list. It’s like doing a brainstorming session with people where you come up with ideas no matter how crazy. It’s a good strategy, but it’s made better when you start removing the really crazy ideas and the focus gets down to the few that are best.
9. Foster Competition
Competition can help with the focus on the team. When your team has one thing to work on it will help them do better and you can kind of supercharge things a bit more with competition. The classic example would be a new product or service that is the main priority and you give the sales team the challenge to sell the most.
10. Sunk Effort Is Okay // Call It Quits
Finally, it’s okay if you put effort into something and pull the plug when you see the signs that it won’t work out. Over your lifetime in business you’ve built up an intuition and it’s good to trust that. Just because you sink money and effort into something doesn’t mean you have to keep doing that. If the effort isn’t working out then call it quits and move on to the next item on the list.
A priority list is a good thing for a business. The big issue with the list, however, is trying to do too many things at once. Know the vision for your company and from there it’s easier to know what you should be working on. It will improve focus and will give your business the best chance for success.