Tolerances for ambiguity, risk, and uncertainty are a few factors that influence an entrepreneur’s strategy and plans. For instance, how do you react when a situation like Covid-19 happens and you must operate differently?
With unstable market conditions, entrepreneurs must drive value from their portfolios and work with the right resources at the right time. A thoughtful, integrated strategy focusing on prioritizing important tasks can adapt to changing market conditions and customers’ demands.
As an entrepreneur, you must reprioritize your work to use the right resources and drive maximum value. Adhering to project management strategies and methods reduce risks, cut costs, and increase success rates, leading to higher survival rates during economic crises. As an entrepreneur, it is crucial to invest your efforts and time in:
- Project planning and due diligence
- Conduct frequent project reviews
- Assess goals, risks, and milestones
- Measure qualitative and quantitative outcomes
Successful entrepreneurs also focus on goal setting to achieve short-term motivation and long-term vision. Setting personal goals allows you to acquire knowledge, organize your time, increase motivation, and use resources adequately.
On the other hand, setting professional goals allow you to streamline your business operations, increase productivity, and yield higher returns on investments (ROIs). How to prioritize tasks? In today’s article, I’ll give you in-depth information. Read on!
Clarify Your Values
The foundational step in learning how to prioritize is writing a mission statement that describes your fundamental purpose and which guides you to plan and implement your vision. A personal mission statement is a description that focuses on your personal objective, short-term and long-term goals, and guiding philosophy. Bear in mind that these factors included in your personal mission statement touch your professional life.
Although a personal mission statement is not the Ten Commandments for your life, it must project at least 3-5 years into the future. As you would review your life’s vision, it is essential to revisit your mission statement and adjust it according to changes in your life or circumstances. Here is an example of a personal mission statement.
During the next five years as an entrepreneur, I will learn leadership skills, design a product or service, take advantage of networking opportunities, and other hands-on experiences. I will volunteer in community service organizations regularly and keep in close touch with my family members and friends. In addition, I will reach at least 200,000 potential clients for my software and networking service.
Remember, your personal mission statement aims to make your goals more concrete and achievable. Make sure your mission statement’s tone is confident and determined. Moreover, the goal-setting process assists entrepreneurs in developing a future focus, analyze issues, identify opportunities, set directions, and determine priorities.
How to Prioritize Your Goals as an Entrepreneur?
Setting priorities is an essential step in the overall goal-setting process. Because goal setting inevitably results in a large amount of subtasks, it is crucial to set priorities.
Have a clear sense of your goals and what objective you want to accomplish. Similarly, focus on what kind of resources you will need to achieve your goals and decide where you’ll allocate your attention, time, and money.
Although money is one of the critical factors in prioritizing goals, you want to focus on the most important goals and not the most affordable ones. Therefore, I recommend trying to leave financial concerns out until after you set priorities.
The most important step in prioritizing your goals is focusing on what is critical and determining how you will allocate resources to meet those needs. The following table will help you understand priority levels.
|Highest-Priority Goals||Goals that take precedence over everything|
|High-Priority Goals||Essential tasks that you need to complete promptly after allocating resources to the highest-priority goals.|
|Priority Goals||Although these goals need your efforts, they are not time-sensitive|
|Low Priority Goals||Goals that you have identified as beneficial but not necessary or essential in terms of resource allocation|
Bear in mind that objectives are more specific, and each goal may have multiple objectives, providing specifics of how you will achieve your goals. Make sure your objectives are measurable so that you can determine and document your success.
How to Effectively Accomplish Projects and Achieve Goals?
Another critical component of learning how to prioritize especially if you want to accomplish projects and achieve your goals is to create an action plan. A well-designed action plan allows you to track and achieve your goals, leading to a clear path to success.
An action plan is a detailed document that outlines your tasks and creates a roadmap to achieve your goal. It is an essential process that requires breaking up the process into actionable and achievable tasks based on a timeline.
Creating an action plan is one of the most challenging tasks for entrepreneurs. However, if you want to complete your projects and achieve your goals, it is wise to put in the work up front and clarify things. The purpose is to create a framework and a roadmap that gives you clarity, structure, and timelines. Here are the steps to create an action plan.
Step 1: Set SMART Goals
Setting SMART goals is the first step to create a solid action plan. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, relevant, and time-based. Therefore, you must define specific goals. For instance, instead of saying that you want to reach more customers, you need to set a particular threshold, such as reach 20% more customers by the end of the year.
You also need to define measurable goals. For example, if your goal is to create cloud-based software, it is essential to develop monthly or bi-annually programming reports to track your progress. Although most entrepreneurs set higher goals, I recommend creating attainable goals so that you do not fatigue yourself.
Moreover, create relevant goals that align with your skills, business, interests, and needs. For instance, if you want to increase your software revenue by 50%, starting an SEO campaign is not a relevant goal. On the other hand, you need to create a goal to achieve a better product-market fit.
Similarly, you must create a time-based goal with a specific deadline. That way, you can achieve your goal on time. For instance, “I want to increase my software revenue by 30% in the next six months.”
Step 2: Create a List of Actions
Once you have created SMART goals, it is time to create a list of tasks to reach your specific goal. You can make this process easier by dividing your goal into several smaller objectives. That way, you can achieve your final goal quickly by completing smaller objectives. Each time you meet a small objective, you feel motivated and make substantial efforts to reach the next one.
For instance, if you want to create software, you will have to perform several tasks to accomplish your goal. These tasks include:
- Brainstorming and planning
- Software requirements and feasibility analysis
- Software design and Prototype
- Development and coding/programming
- Integration and testing
- Implementation or deployment
- Operations and maintenance
Step 3: Set a timeline
Although it is essential to set a deadline for your primary goal, you must also create a timeframe for small objectives or tasks that you need to complete to achieve your final goal. Create a timeline that you can follow, leading to consistency and progress toward your specific goal.
Ensure you evaluate requirements and consider the time you need to complete each task on the list. For instance, you want to increase your website traffic by 50% in two years through SEO, email marketing, and social media advertising.
In that case, you need to set specific timeframes for each task. For example, you want to increase organic traffic through SEO by 15% in one year and implement your social media advertising in three months to increase traffic by 10%.
Step 4: Allocate Resources
Entrepreneurs carry out different projects depending on their industry or niche. If you want to complete a large project, you may hire freelancers to complete specific tasks. Before you hire freelancers to work for you, make sure you evaluate their skills. Next, note down the resources you will need to complete each task, such as equipment, money, tools, and the number of freelancers.
For instance, if you are a lead designer/programmer and want to create a cloud-based software system, you may need digital marketing experts, content writers, and social media experts to promote your software system. You may also need tools and apps for content creation, graphic design, and data analysis.
Step 5: Monitor the progress
Monitoring your progress is an essential part of your action plan, allowing you to track how you will achieve each task on time. For instance, you need to generate reports, analyze data, and reflect on your work to ensure you are on the right track. That way, you will have a much clearer idea of your progress toward achieving your goal.
Say you want to write 1,000 lines of code every week to create a state-of-the-art software system. Breaking that down, you will need at least 100 lines of code every day to achieve this objective. Doing so can help you determine how close you are to your final goal.
Knowing how to prioritize leads to effective project management, increased productivity, and higher ROIs. It enables you to set your tasks and rate them by importance or urgency. That way, you can achieve a clear vision and define short-term/long-term goals.
How to prioritize tasks? One way to do it is to classify your tasks in terms of urgency and importance. An urgent task requires immediate attention, whereas important activities contribute toward your high-priority objectives and goals. You can classify activities into four categories:
- Urgent and important
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent and not important
|Important||A deadline-driven software project, preparation, design, and coding||Preparation, values clarification, planning, marketing, resource allocation, and empowerment|
|Not Important||Interruptions, some phone calls, report generation, and other activities||Trivia, busywork, answering irrelevant emails, excessive coding|
Keep in mind that the above table holds a significant value for an entrepreneur to accomplish the project and achieve goals. If you want to manage your life and time, you need to complete activities in quadrant one and two.
How to Manage Competing Priorities?
Suppose your client needs you to complete a project in one month. However, you have another urgent task that you need to finish for a different client. Therefore, there is no way that you can complete both projects on time.
Conflicting priorities can lead to deteriorated productivity. The goal is to satisfy both clients. The solution to this is to sacrifice a bit more time to work for longer to ensure you complete everything on time. This doesn’t mean you’ll be working longer hours everyday, but in this case it’s necessary. Remember, working too hard can lead to burnout and destroy your career as a solo entrepreneur.
Here are a few additional tips on how to prioritize conflicting tasks:
- Schedule your work effectively
- Negotiate deadlines with your clients
- Manage your clients’ expectations
- Be flexible and professional
When you have competing priorities, some of your clients may disagree with your choice of reprioritizing your tasks or projects. In that case, you need to negotiate a new deadline, but make sure it works for you and your client.
On the other hand, if your client insists that you need to work on their project, you need to learn to defend your priorities. However, you must not damage your work relationship.
Start by showing empathy and communicate with your clients until they understand your situation and agree to extend the deadline. Make sure you explain your needs clearly and assertively.
For example, you can reiterate that you must complete another client’s project by Monday. Tell your client that you need to keep the promise you made to another client. Therefore, you must focus on that task.
How to Say No More Often?
Many entrepreneurs find it challenging to say “No” to their clients or customers. Some entrepreneurs who are assertive in other situations often say “Yes” to their clients when they don’t want to carry out their projects.
As an entrpreneur one of the keystones for learning how to prioritize effectively is saying “No” more often. Entrepreneurs who always say “Yes” to all their clients are often overwhelmed or overworked. Here are a few ways to say “No.”
If you know your answer will be “No,” it is important to do it quickly. Otherwise, it will get more complicated over time when you put off responding. Avoid delaying your answer to let your client or customer know that you are not ready to work for them.
Buy Some Time
On the other hand, if you are unsure about the project and need time to think, you must ask your client to give you some time for thinking. However, you need to give your client an end time. For example, “I will get back to you tomorrow afternoon after reviewing my schedule and other commitments.”
Show Gratitude for the Opportunity
Although you should be honest and straightforward with your client, you can say something like, “I am sorry, I may not be able to work on your project. I appreciate the opportunity, but I have to say “No.” Thank you so much for understanding my situation.”
Don’t Give an Excuse
If you give your client an excuse, it could backfire. For instance, if you say that you are not taking new clients due to workload, your potential client may ask you to do it after completing other tasks. Remember, you don’t owe your clients or customers an excuse.
People apologize when they make a mistake or do something wrong. Remember, you are not committing a sin by saying “No.” Therefore, don’t explain and apologize. Be direct, honest, and straightforward.
As an entrepreneur, you have to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities, including your personal life/relationships, meeting project deadlines, learning new things, and taking care of your personal needs for relaxation, health, and well-being.
If you want to manage multiple projects and meet your personal and business objectives, you need to set short-term and long-term priorities. Knowing how to prioritize tasks leads to increased productivity and higher returns on investment. Until Next Time!