The Four Criteria Entrepreneurs Should Use To Spend Their Time

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For entrepreneurs of all types, your time is by far your most valuable asset. 

Are you investing it wisely?  After all, in this competitive and disruptive environment, you can’t be late when the barn door opens.  Every day you waste working on the wrong stuff, gives your competitor a day to gain or you or extend his lead.  So how do we best manage time at a strategic level?  Enter Jason Nazar, CEO of docstoc and a (very good) speaker at this week’s Startup Conference in Los Angeles. 

His talk (How To Make The Right Business Decisions) revealed a grid (see above) that will help you manage your time effectively.  Too often we have a mega-TODO list that gobbles up our time, and we feel some sense of accomplishment ticking items off the list. That may be OK for some, but if you are entrepreneur, this approach will bury you! 

Here’s his formula: Focus on things that have a big upside (money, market share, etc.), you have a way higher than 50% chance of succeeding in this task, it won’t gobble up too much time and most of all – it’s strategic to the business you are running.  Think for a second about this formula, and how much of your TODO list doesn’t qualify for your attention.  He explained that at docstoc, they don’t put resources into a product that will increase traffic by a few percent.  It needs to have a 25-50% potential to get his attention.  At Google, this is called the “hundred million dollar idea” filter. 

Too often, we work on low-upside projects that are easy or sometimes we get buried in low upside projects that are hard to finish – and by wasting the extra effort we miss the golden opportunites.  The other thing he warns, is the high success – not strategic trap: Where you achieve a quick victory, but in the end, it has nothing to do with your business strategy.  Sure, it’s a win, but for who? 

Try this next week, and be ruthless!  If you adopt the A quadrant right now – Put no efforts on a project that doesn’t move the needle significantly, you’ll likely ignore over half of what you toiled on this week.