Getting Started: Slicing through Confusion, Activity Lists and the Printable CEO

by Santosh

I occasionally have the good fortune of meeting up with freshly minted, enthusiastic founders. My last such meeting was with two highly productive geeks who were getting started on their venture. I thought I would write about my meeting with them here so that what we covered could continue to be of help to others like them – especially those who have limited resources, and yet possess unlimited ability to create value.

Spotting Confusion. As we sat down to ear our rajma – chawal, our conversation focused on the many questions that they had. Of how they were looking for sustainable work and were not sure if they should accept any kind of work they get, or if they should qualify the work they do. Other points included getting a sales person on-board, aiming at a niche, margins and so on.

Together we realized that these were really empty strategies for the stage they were at. They’d only recently delivered their first project. They were still balancing their full-time jobs, lives and their venture.

Going by my own experience and the experience of others – too great an emphasis on strategy results in confusion and paralyses. True market strategy derives from on-the-ground experiences of both success and failure.

Activity Lists. Here’s what we thought they would focus on – create a simple list of a dozen activities that included both building & selling. This is not a task list. Since they were already good at building things, they’d just have to pay more attention to the selling bit. The activity list could direct them to regularly capture the value they were creating and actively search for new opportunities.

Since they wouldn’t necessarily have complete control on how much time they would have at their disposal – I thought it best to list activities that could take as little as 15mins as well as activities that would need a lot more time. By keeping the list short, they’d stay focused on the activities that they believed will make a meaningful difference.

The list shown in the screenshot is a mock one I put together rather quickly. At one point or another, all of us have had the experience of starting something new – so you will know that the essence of creating this list is to get you in the flow of things and to help you connect the right set of activities with the results that you value. For instance, if after networking locally and over Airtime – the entrepreneurs find that the leads on Airtime work out to be of much greater value – that a-ha moment is where they can choose to refocus their efforts. Over time, following and evolving the list would be crucial to allowing true strategy and differentiation to emerge.

The Printable CEO. As I got to thinking more about our conversation, I reached further into my past encounters with productivity ideas. The Printable CEO by David Seah is one I’d consider implementing.

The Printable CEO is a prioritized activity list that you can easily adapt for your own needs. As David explains, it is incredibly easy to distract your self from what really matters to moving forward. You could spend an entire week networking, and not know if it has made a difference to you.  To close this gap the Printable CEO allocates a simple point system to each activity. All life-sustaining activities give you 10 points, which is the highest. When you finish a week full of work – total up the points to get an idea of how you’ve done.

To wrap up, confusion is a healthy signal to focus more on activity and less on strategy. Activity lists and David’s Printable CEO are timeless and could help you accelerate your realization of your goals.

Also see,
The Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning – LifeHacker.com.