The biggest growth moment for any entrepreneur is understanding that some things are more important than others when it comes to growing your business. One of the simplest, yet hardest things to do is to keep your focus on what your real priorities are.
With all of the known demands and constantly emerging challenges and opportunities on you and your time, how can you ensure everyone is optimizing their time and getting the right tasks achieved every day?
Below are three questions that we used every day when our company, webMethods, was a young startup being operated right out of our basement. These questions challenged each and every one of us to focus and prioritize to achieve our goals. To this day, I am convinced that these three questions played a pivotal role in growing our company from $27,000 in revenue to over $200 million.
1. What problem are we solving for our customers?
Put the focus on what your business is all about: the people and companies you want to help.
Can you articulate the problem you want to solve? Do you know enough about your customers’ problems? Is what you’re doing helping to solve their problem and adding value and benefits to them and their customers?
2. Where’s the leverage?
Leverage means building upon what you’ve already achieved and taking it to a new level. Another way to look at this is to ask how does the daily business demands relate to every other objective and activity your company does? How does it intersect with other priorities? How does this connect and advance the core goals of the company? How can it be used in alignment with internal and external partners?
Each team member should ask: Is what I’m doing right now supporting and leveraging what other team members are doing? Or am I down my own rabbit trail?
Another helpful way to answer this question is to ask:
- How many customers have this problem?
- Where are the intersections with our current customers or partners?
- Does this activity move us forward toward achieving our objectives, or is it a diversion?
3. How do we measure this priority?
What gets measured, gets done. When you are thinking about how to prioritize your day, week, and month, setting quantifiable goals of your priorities gives you incredible focus and clarity. Having quantifiable goals gives you freedom and clarity in making yes or no decisions more quickly. It takes you from the theoretical to practical application.
Can you break down the idea and quantify what it means in terms of achieving your objectives now or in the future?
It matters to quantify — your investors, employees and stakeholders need to have information about your company in this context. And it helps you and your team to see how far you’ve come, how far you need to go, and if you need to recalibrate. Just about any business activity can be measured to help track against your quantifiable goals.
Asking these three simple questions throughout your day, week, month, and quarter brings you clarity — whether you are deciding on a new initiative, pivoting on a current project, managing an unforeseen emergency, or taking advantage of a killer opportunity. Most especially, it works in determining how you spend your time every day.