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The One Question Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Be Able to Answer

23 Jun

top three priorities

One of my favorite shows currently on TV right now is Shark Tank. It feeds my entrepreneurial spirit and ignites a lot of creative (and sometimes cooky) ideas that I could only wish to have the opportunity to present to this impressive audience of venture capitalists.

All that aside, the reason I really love watching this show is because of the pearls of wisdom these experienced entrepreneurs spout off that have inspired quite a few blog posts – this week being no exception. On an episode from a few weeks back, it was Barbara Corcoran who said “Never have I ever met a successful entrepreneur who is unable to answer this one question.”  The question?

“Tomorrow when you wake up and go into the office, what are your top three priorities?”

This question is deceivingly simple. Try answering it off the top of your head right now. When I tried to do the same, I knew I had the answers, but when put on the spot, I found it hard to quickly put these key priorities into succinct bullet points. This doesn’t mean I’m doomed to fail as an entrepreneur, but it did make me want to sit down and put some thought into my top three priorities right now. Should I ever “bump” into Barbara Corcoran, this would be my answer to her question:

1. Continue to build quality relationships with my existing clients

In the pursuit of new clients, I never want to take for granted the awesome ones I currently have. I’ve already put the effort into earning their business, building a relationship with them and becoming efficient at the tasks I do for them month after month. It is a valuable use of my time to keep these existing clients happy and on board because trying to replace them is far more costly.

2. Selectively target new clients

Once I devote the time to keeping my current clients engaged, I need to continually fill my pipeline with ideal prospective clients. I’m lucky to be in a position where I can be selective with the new clients I choose to take on. I know the size, industry and vision of companies I best serve and these are the ones in which I’ll devote my time to pursuing. Smaller clients or ones that don’t quite align with my services may still find me, and I’m happy to see how I can help, but they are not the ones that I will actively put my resources into pursuing.

3. Find ways to automate my tasks and become more efficient with my time

I’m a consultant and sole proprietor by design. This means I must carefully guard my time and find ways to be extremely efficient as I take on additional clients if I want to continue to enjoy the benefits of the 80/20 Principle. It is my goal to find ways to automate my tasks or become more efficient at completing them so that as I take on new clients, I’m not working more, I’m simply filling the bandwidth my efficiency has opened up.

Whatever your top three priorities are right now says a lot of about the current state of your business/career and your entrepreneurial style. Maybe they even point out some areas where you need to refocus. They should address your immediate needs, but also plan for future growth and strategic change. Having your top three priorities locked and loaded serves a purpose far greater than simply impressing someone who asks. They give you that laser focus each and every day that is at the core of every successful entrepreneur.

Are you able to easily answer this question? Share your personal top three priorities by commenting below!

 

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5 responses to “The One Question Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Be Able to Answer

  1. Des Collier

    June 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I couldn’t resist the compelling title to your article. To my mind The Question, “When you wake up tomorrow…” points to my immediate priorities (as opposed to long-term). So my answer is: 1) Complete the training post-assessment report for a course I have just run for a client. 2) Edit the client’s MBA thesis waiting in my in-tray. 3) Do my invoicing for the month. If the question is meant to be my top three business priorities (in the medium term) then: 1) Financial recovery from the lay-out for a recent business start-up 2) To build a network of relationships with creative, energising people 3) Maintain an environment in which to produce creative, targeted and memorable work effectively.

     
    • Stephanie Shirley

      June 23, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      These are excellent and well thought out responses, Des! I especially like the idea of maintaining a creative environment. That is so important for inspiring innovation.

       
  2. colinewalther

    June 30, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I have the same top three priorities, but as for the third one, I’m looking for ways to automate, but I also want to outsource.

    Can you explain the 80/20 principle?

     

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