Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

How to get your priorities right as a business

Working on the right things in your business may very well mean life or death for your business.

That is why as a business owner and leader you should get the handle on how to set the right priorities for your business.

Well, most leaders and their teams are not very good at this.

That is because running a business, for a first time business owner, does not really come with a manual. It’s a whole train of thousand confusing decisions that need to be made, and focusing on making the wrong decisions may very well lead us off the track that is meant to lead our business to success.

That is having the right tasks at the summit of your priority list is important for your business.

Dan Millman, an American author, and lecturer in personal development has this to say about priorities:

“I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.”

So how do you then pick and work on the right priorities for your business?

How do you know if you are still working on the company’s strategic goals?

How do you make sure the company is sticking to their values?

Here are six things you should keep in mind when setting priorities for your business.

Figure what is important to the business

What are the company’s core business activities? What is the company’s long-term objective?

The answers to those questions should drive your company’s decision making process.

Company employees are taken over by the small activities that are not important to the running of the business. Checking their email, checking their social media, attending to other people’s agendas and doing the less important little tasks.

The problem with this is that when they get to the end of the day, they’re depleted of energy. The bigger, more important tasks don’t get done. They get pushed back to tomorrow, next week, next month.

Set out objectives and process that will determine the tasks that need to be done that will align with the company’s long-term goals and strengthen the company’s operational activities.

You can discuss about what the competition are doing. Outline the strengths and weaknesses of what you do and compare them to what your competition is doing.

Outline the strengths and weaknesses of the company’s current operational objectives.

Figure out what is important to the survival of the company and then proceed to set SMART tasks and daily goals that will strengthen and sustain the business.

Focus on what will drive growth

Once you have outlined what is important to the company, it is now time to focus mainly on what activities are making the company grow.

As a company, you want to grow.

Not every activity that is performed in various departments adds to the growth of your company. People become invested in performing the duties that they or their departments are expected to deliver even if what they do does not propel the company forward.

Sometimes people tend to over prioritise and this makes them do too much.

Analyse what is making the company grow department by department and once you have identified and isolated them, take time to help everyone involved understand the big-picture goal and how they are going to help achieve it, so they can feel connected to what’s most important.

Communicate so priorities resonate

Many leaders make the mistake of revealing strategies and priorities in language that may work in the boardroom but that doesn’t resonate with the troops.

If people can’t relate their jobs to what you’re saying the company needs or what they can do to help, they will automatically disconnect.
 So what can you do to solve this?

Make your managers the meaning-makers. They have the power to link their teams to company priorities in a realistic and meaningful way. Arm them to translate strategic business speak into the language of the people doing work around them — making priorities accessible and understandable in the context of daily work activities.

Assign specific time

Set the pace and the deadline to meet each priority.

Not all priorities are equal therefore they should not take up the same amount of time and effort. Sometimes it can be challenging to strike the right balance of what’s important, and what each priority will deliver for the business. 
 Step back and take a hard look at your priorities to understand what purpose each serves. Think about creating a healthy balance of priorities across three buckets:

  • Run your business better today
  • Build capability for tomorrow’s business
  • Growth bets for the future

Forget perfectionism.

Entrepreneurs are often Type A overachievers.

For us, it’s really hard to let things go unfinished and not be perfect. But if you are serious about prioritization, you need to be able to drop something in midstream to focus on another task that has greater potential to drive results.

It may feel counterintuitive, but in the rough-and-tumble drive to start a company, perfectionism can be a problem.

You have to be willing to do things half way just to get more done with the higher chances to yield strong results. And that isn’t easy for high performers.

Celebrate the small wins but move on quickly

Regardless of how hard you try, many people still sit back and wait for someone else to go first in creating new mission-critical priorities.

It is essential to create momentum, and even a movement, by celebrating early successes and scaling the drivers of this success to other areas.

Establish a mindset of challenging the status quo, running a rapid experiment and capturing the learnings of successes or failure as the way to accelerate new action for priority execution.

Final thoughts…

Finding the right thing to focus on in your personal life is hard and it is much harder to do that with a business that is why you should work hard to get it right.

Remember, it is completely normal for priorities to change over time that is part of the reason why priority pressure never goes away.

With great alignment coupled with priorities that speak to all involved, and a vision for success, you can reach your goal.

What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment and share your thoughts in the section below.