In both our personal and professional lives, the start of a new year brings a time to set our faces toward living out our best selves. Where do you want to go, and how will you get there? Same old, same old won’t cut it, will it? Reaching your 2019 goals will require setting and sticking to your business priorities. But what exactly are they?
To set priorities that will support your business goals for 2019, work backwards.
For instance, no doubt one of your goals is to increase sales by a certain amount. Given your average sales per customer, what combination of new and up-sales will get you to that number? How will you create and deliver content to reach enough of the right people to make that happen? What new initiatives will be necessary to keep up with trends in the rapidly changing marketing landscape? What will it take to make each of those happen?
Now comes the hard part — sticking to those priorities
One of the biggest challenges business leaders face in sticking to their priorities is a lack of bandwidth, says Eric Douglas, author of The Leadership Equation and senior partner of Leading Resources Incorporated. Too often their days are consumed with the urgencies of operations. They go from one fire to the next, trying to keep things rolling.
You know how it is: You have every intention of working on your business, not in it. And before you know it, you’ve spent the day sitting in a meeting (or meetings) that should have been a simple email.
Meanwhile, your priorities quietly hang out in the background and wait for you to refocus on them. Hopefully you will before it’s too late.
Every business leader struggles with this — especially entrepreners.
The solution usually involves delegating or outsourcing to clear the path to focus on strategy. What you offload could be client work, marketing, bookkeeping and accounting, or HR.
If you’re overwhelmed with the urgent, others on your team probably are, too. They will naturally become protective of their own time and energy instead of open to creative thinking and new opportunities.
They need a visionary leader who includes them in planning and vision casting, who listens to their concerns and ideas, and who respects their gifts and affirms their contributions each step of the way.
Your role as that leader is worth more than any amount of money you will save by keeping those operational tasks on your own to-do list.
“One of the biggest challenges business leaders face in sticking to their priorities is a lack of bandwidth. The solution usually involves delegating or outsourcing to clear the path to focus on strategy. What you offload could be client work, marketing, bookkeeping and accounting, or HR.”
3 strategies to make and keep business priorities
Leadership coaches recommend several strategies to support the discipline of priorities. Here are three to chew on:
- Schedule and guard thinking time. Unless there is a reason to call 911, schedule other responsibilities and appointments around it. Others may see you as available during these periods, so you may need to set firm boundaries around time to evaluate, adjust, and plan. And turn off your phone (or put it in another room).
- Remember that even the most well-thought-out business priorities often require flexibility. Too little and they will shatter instead of bend when life changes. Too much, and they will collapse instead of bend and offer no guidance at all. Approach adjustments with the goal in mind.
- Question everything. Specifically, ask “Why?” and “Where will this lead?” daily as a check on whether you are staying on course. There is power in creating a team culture of asking to continually refocus everyone’s priorities on their part of what really matters.