The most successful entrepreneurs focus on what directly drives the success of their business — and leave everything else for later. With data as a guide, startup and expansion-stage company leaders identify those key areas and make a prioritized to do list that keeps them focused on what’s most important.
First up: gather data. Reliable and up-to-date data is crucial to making an effective prioritized to do list, suggests Edward D. Hess in his book, Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Entrepreneurial Business, excerpted in this post for Fast Company. For businesses making a product, metrics like backlog, units produced, raw materials available, customer calls and complaints, sales leads and sales made would all be important to track. A flow chart for every step of the production, delivery, and customer service chain provides an easy way to identify weak links.
Another vital element in a prioritized to do list is setting aside time for big-picture strategy. Many entrepreneurs get bogged down with day-to-day crises, leaving little time for macro-level thought. In the words of one, this is time to “work on the business, instead of working in the business.”
Finally, communicating priorities is key to success. Daily “huddles” with employees at the start and finish of each day allow entrepreneurs to set priorities for the entire company. With all employees on the same page, companies stay focused on what fuels growth — and for startups and expansion companies, that’s always a priority.