EVERYBODY PLANS--It’s a part of our lives and is human nature. When you go to the grocery store, you make a list. When you go shopping, you have things in mind that you want to buy. The question now is: once in the store, how long does it take you to accomplish those tasks? Do you spend an hour in the grocery store because you go down the list from top to bottom, ignoring the order of your groceries’ placement in the store? Or do you shop smart, bring a pencil, and go from one side of the store to the other, checking your items off the list as you go?

Shopping habits aside, let’s convert this scenario for usage in a corporate setting. With today’s economy, chances are, if you have a job, you’re probably overworked and feel like your tasks are never fully accomplished. If you’re an entrepreneur trying to start your own business, you know you have to accomplish a seemingly endless number of tasks in order to get your operation off the ground or grown to the next level. Have you finished writing your business plan? Have you researched funding options? Have you planned how you’re going to go public? Do you have enough employee help or farmed-out resources to get you off the ground and up to a competitive momentum?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of those questions, I’m afraid that you’re not using your time as wisely as you could. If you’re just trying to start a small business and are wasting time thinking about going public, it means that you’re not focusing enough on what you should be: the now. It takes years for the average privately owned company to go public or release their initial public offering (IPO). The reason may be not why you think. Think about it from an investor’s standpoint; would you give a huge amount of money to a company that had only had its doors open for five minutes? I know I wouldn’t--out of principle. Simply stated, successful investors didn’t get that way because they were risky or stupid.   

Getting back to the point, if you’re focusing on tasks that don’t need pondering for another five years, then you’re not getting done now what needs to happen to get you to that five-year point. We call it, “getting out over your skis.” If you’re whipping down a steep bank and lean too far forward, you’re going to end up flat on your face. 

The solution is to stick to the now and prioritize. If you need to make a gigantic list (as I often do), then do so. After I’ve made my list, I often sub-categorize it in order to break it into major (often profit-bearing) accomplishments, and the tasks that each requires. That way, I can focus on one project at a time and ensure that I accomplish everything I need to in order to prove that initiative profitable before moving on to the next one. 

If this concept is still a little unclear and you’re a fan of 1950’s dramatic theater, the “or” title to this article would be, “The Case of the Entrepreneur Who Spread Himself Too Thin and Accomplished Nothing.”