The 3 questions that will help maximise every entrepreneur’s productivity

Is it possible to stay productive as an entrepreneur even if one’s plate is filled to the brim?

An entrepreneur has the same 24-hour day as anyone else. But, within those few hours, there are millions of decisions to be made, questions to be answered and mind-boggling calculations to be made. When there is so much going on around you, staying focused can prove to be difficult. As a result, productivity will go for a toss. 

Is it possible to stay productive as an entrepreneur even if one’s plate is filled to the brim?

There are three questions that can help with that. These are three questions that every entrepreneur must ask themselves every day to maximise their productivity.

Will this bring growth to my business?

For any entrepreneur, growth should be the primary focus and purpose. As an entrepreneur, you are solely responsible for charting the future growth story of the business. There are vital decisions to be taken as to how the business can enter and establish a presence in new markets, how the existing product line can be expanded to serve customers better, and also to bring in more revenue. 

In other words, every single action of the entrepreneur should be geared towards bringing growth to the business. That calls for great decision-making skills. Taking a tough business decision is no mean task. You need a process, a framework, a structure to create great decisions. 

Also Read: Bootstrapping or Venture Capital: The pros and cons every start-up should consider.

To give you an idea, here is the six-step process that Elon Musk uses to make business decisions. 

  • Begin with the question
  • Gather as much evidence as possible about it
  • Develop axioms and assign a probability to each of them
  • Draw a conclusion based on: Are these axioms correct, are they relevant, do they necessarily lead to this conclusion, and with what probability?
  • Argue for and against the conclusion. Seek refutation from others to get counter arguments
  • If nobody can invalidate your conclusion, then you’re probably right, but you’re not certainly right.

Although this might seem overly complicated, the basic idea is to run your thought through multiple perspectives to arrive at the right decision.

Also Read: Bootstrapping or Venture Capital: The pros and cons every start-up should consider.

Can I delegate this to someone?

Jack Welch, America’s best-known CEO, who took the company General Electric to its zenith of success writes about delegation in his biography. According to Jack’s biography, he always started with the question, “What needs to be done now?” 

He will make a list of five top priorities. Out of the five, he will pick two to three tasks that he was best suited to handle. He will delegate the rest to his subordinates or other leaders who are best suited to do it. 

To run a business successfully, you must know not only about the insides of the business but also about managing your time well. As an entrepreneur, your time cannot be dedicated to every single activity. You must find specialists who have dedicated expertise in it. They will bring about efficiency and save time in the process. 

It’s not the only specialist, but you should delegate grunt work too. I spoke with Neal Taparia, who runs word finding site Unscrambled Words, allows his team to delegate any data gathering work to outsourcing platforms like Upwork so they can focus on more important tasks.

Lastly, delegating tasks saves your time and energy for other priorities, mainly strategising the future of the business, growing the revenues, strengthening leadership, and so on.

If I don’t do this what will I lose?

Like mentioned earlier, you cannot be doing every single activity on your plate. You will have to delegate some part of your work to others, or even delete some parts of the task. Now deleting tasks comes with a cost. Probably, these are tasks that could not be delegated, either because you have no one to do it or simply it is not the time to do it. 

You have to ask yourself, what is the opportunity cost of not doing something?

Also Read: 6 Common Design Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

In other words, you have to do a mental cost-benefit analysis of all the pros and cons to find the best path forward. If the gains outweigh, or if there are more pros than cons, then you know what to prioritise.

Serial entrepreneur Darshan Somashekar, who has sold two businesses to public companies and recently founded brain training company Solitaired, talks about the importance of saying no: “As an entrepreneur, there are hundreds of things you can do in your business that you’re excited about. You have to say no, even to promising opportunities, so you can focus and execute on the right ones. I could have built dozens of brain training games, but I said no to building them to focus on a few and get them right.”

Similarly, you must have come across the concept of the time value of money (TVM) in finance. It can be applied to time as well. You can assign a monetary value to the time you have. 

Peter Drucker writes in his book The Effective Executive, “The supply of time is totally inelastic.  No matter how high the demand, the supply will not go up.  There is no price for it and no marginal utility curve for it.  Moreover, time is totally perishable and cannot be stored.”

So, while deciding to do or not do a task, you can try to determine what you will possibly lose by not doing it. If you have everything to gain and nothing to lose, you should be doing it. 

The productivity of makers and doers can be measured with the number of tasks they tick off on a given day. But, for an entrepreneur, it is largely dependent on the priorities that decide upon and the tasks that they decide to do in a day. 

Needless to say, every entrepreneur will be swarmed with a long list of priorities. It is difficult to drill down and fix a few ones that really deserve their time and attention. The three questions discussed above can help get a handle on that. 

Also Read: The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail

It can help an entrepreneur to decide what tasks they must be working on, how they should go about doing it, and also decide how it will affect them if they choose not to do it.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing contributions from the community. Become a thought leader in the community and share your opinions or ideas and earn a byline by submitting a post.

[epic_post_author el_id=”Kevin Shuler” el_class=”Dhaval Sarvaiya”]

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