How to prioritize as an entrepreneur

If you can’t prioritize as a founder, you’re most likely going to fail.

Or grow really slowly and get beat out by someone who can.

So here is my simple two step approach to efficiently prioritizing.

Step 1: Knowing what’s most important (the framework).

Step 2: Having the discipline to follow Step 1.

Let’s discuss 👇

Step 1: Know what’s mosts important. 

The framework for prioritization is actually really simple.

It starts by understanding (and reminding yourself constantly) what’s most important to you as an entrepreneur?

And while this sounds simple, I’m not sure it’s common knowledge. I was inspired to write this from two entrepreneurs I spoke to this week, who lacked clarity here.

For me, finding product market fit (really happy + sticky customers) and growing quickly is most important to me.

For you, depending on your business and stage, it may be different. But I’d encourage you to think deeply about this. Because focusing on the wrong thing here is lethal.

Once you know what’s most important to you the rest is easy.

This is the framework you make decisions and prioritize by.

Whatever gets you closer to this, get’s done first.

Any time you have a decision to make on like “invest in A or B?” or “what should I do first?”, simply ask yourself this.

What gets me closer to {{ your most important thing }}?

This simple question to myself is really useful and gives me clarity 90% of the time.

Example from this week:
We have a small bug in our production app, that drives me crazy as a perfectionist, but it only affects ~5% of users. And would take a decent input from our main developer to patch. We also have a whole new feature we want to build that will (likely) be an insanely new effective method for getting new customers. And when your goal is to i) find product market fit and ii) grow really fast. It becomes obvious that fixing the bug should be a low priority, assuming it doesn’t cause churn. This framework is how we will grow fast and find PMF quickly as a 2+1 person dev+product team. 

Step 2: Having the discipline to follow Step 1

What your to do list and overall mindset should look like.

If you consistently ask yourself this framework question, you’re ahead of most entrepreneurs I see in San Francisco. Staying discipline to this though is easier said than done. Most people in general (especially Californian’s) struggle with discipline though. That’s why America is fat and lazy, but that’s a topic for another day.

In practice for me, every day I wake up early when there are no distractions, get to the office, and knock out the items on my “Hit list” which are 2 or 3 items that get me closer to the thing {{most important to me}}.

Example from this week:

My hitlist is a part of my personal to do list that I find helpful. Just a simple list of my top to-dos for the day that align my day with bigger priorities. Yesterday wasn’t my best day, but you get the point.

I like to constantly audit the opportunities I get presented with and ask myself, does this align with my {{main priority}}.

Being disciplined here may look like you saying no to calls, skipping venture capital meetings, fighting shiny object syndrome, or missing out on something with potential. But consistently winning these mini-battles will pay off in the long run.

{{ Your main priority in mind }} + This video (Planning the perfect week) = 🚀

Bedros Keuilian’s book Man Up and the video above are great resources on discipline and focus. These resources, and the experience of failing in business (because lack of priority + discipline), have helped me become more disciplined in this aspect of my life.

Conclusion:

If you don’t prioritize, your company will eventually die and you will fail.

Don’t let this happen.

Instead, give my 2 step approach a shot.

Step 1: Ask yourself, what is important to you right now? >> (me: Find Product Market Fit and Grow Faster)
Step 2: Do the things that will make your response to 1 happen sooner.

Simple enough right?

Thanks for reading and good luck.
Dom

ps. What do you think of this article? Tweet or email me.

Prioritization and delegation are two things on my my mind lately so I hope you enjoyed this short brain dump. If you want to hear about delegation, come back soon.

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