Whether you are trying to get clear on your business direction, or your daily tasks, you have to chunk up from the detail swimming around in your head to a higher level focus.
Step 1: Get everything out of your head and onto a page
Do a ‘brain dump’ of everything – your to-do items, your opportunities (for new clients, for new business directions, for new partners, for new products or services, for new marketing activities, etc). It’s easiest if you do this on a spreadsheet because then you can sort (by importance!)
Step 2: Rank Everything According To Impact – High, Medium, Low
Create a column heading for ‘Impact’ and use H, M, L to indicate what sort of impact each item has.
In order to identify the impact of these items, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the outcome associated with doing/having/accepting this?
- Does that outcome move me closer to my [monthly/quarterly/annual] goal?
- Is the impact on my business short term or long term?
Answers to those questions should help you identify how significant the impact of that activity/item/opportunity will be to your business.
Step 3: Assess Resource Requirements
For example, if you have an opportunity to expand your business into another city, and another opportunity to partner with someone on a big project, and another to set up an affiliate partner, and another to promote your business into an industry association, they all take resources. Ask yourself the above questions, and then ask what sort of resources it would take to make it happen.
Add in another column for ‘Resources’. Again, identify those that are High, Medium or Low. A ‘High’ resource requirement may be the complete redevelopment of your website. It takes people, time and money in order to complete.
You always need to weigh the resource requirements against the expected outcomes or returns.
Step 4: Group Like Activities Together
In a column for ‘Activity Type’ key in what’s relevant to your business, such as Sales, Finance & Admin, Client Work, Marketing, Projects, People, etc
If one area of your business is really critical, for example it may be ‘People’ because you must recruit two new people to your team, or you don’t have a team and you need to sort out how to build one, or you must conduct performance reviews.
If that area of the business in itself is urgent, just focus on that for now until you get some results.
Step 5: Sort – By ‘Impact’ & ‘Resources’
All the activities or opportunities for your business that are of the highest propriety will be at the top of the list. Focus on all High Impact activities/options that are also Low Resource requirements as you will be able to do them faster and achieve the outcomes faster.
That will get you started.
This is even more important if you are facing a tougher market – you need to be very clear on your priorities, the outcomes you expect and the resources required to achieve them.
Clear priorities = Focus = Results