How to Set Better Priorities in a Startup (in 5 Actionable Steps)


To be effective in startups, you need to set better priorities--here's how.

Priorities can make or break your business. In a startup, you have a finite amount of resources--your revenue will be relatively low, you won't have much flexibility with the capital you have on-hand, and of course, there are only so many hours you can work before you're tapped out. If you spend your effort on the wrong things, you could easily lead your startup astray.

By the same token, it's hard to know what's a "good" priority, and if you're inexperienced, it's hard to set priorities effectively. By following these five steps, you can improve your priority setting and keep your startup on a good path:

1. Cut out the distractions. Your first job is to get rid of all the little distractions that come up--from phone calls to fly-bys, people will be clamoring for your input and attention, or bringing you micro-tasks that occupy you. Close yourself off from these, at least temporarily.
2. Write out everything you have to do. Don't just juggle them in your head. Get them on paper or on a screen in front of you. This will help you visualize your workload.
3. Evaluate both significance and urgency. Significance refers to how important each task is to your business's survival. Urgency refers to how soon the task needs to be taken care of. Categorize each task in front of you accordingly.
4. Delegate what you can. To reduce your workload and make things clearer, delegate any tasks you can to your other team members.
5. Stay self-consistent. Follow your priority sheet precisely, reevaluating as new information makes itself available.

These steps can't guarantee that you'll set priorities perfectly, every time, nor can they tell you exactly what to prioritize. Instead, they'll help you develop a repeatable system for organizing your tasks and work.

Jose Vasquez is a serial entrepreneur and tech enthusiast dedicated to helping startup technology companies get the direction and momentum they need to succeed. As the founder of Build. Brand. Blast., Jose has established a collective resource for tech entrepreneurs to consult when brainstorming, creating, launching, or expanding a new business. Jose is also the founder and CEO of Quez Media Marketing, a marketing firm that combines technology and creativity to help new and growing companies get the results they need.