Making decisions when running your own business

The last 9 years have been a real education for me.  For most of us, especially for me, I thought education was what occurred while in the four walls of an institution of higher learning.  I have had plenty of that kind of education in my life.  The first installment came during my “summer vacation” at the United States Naval Academy in 1977 and this continued during my four years at Murray State.  The path continued while attending Tennessee State and it culminated with my second masters degree at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.

I learned many things during the years of “insulated learning” at MSU, TSU and VU, but I have learned so much more in the years that have paralleled and followed each of these experiences.  For me, nothing compares with the everyday educational experience I have received by working for others as well as from running my own business.  I’ll share a few of these learning's during my post today, especially the education I have gained from being self employed and running a business.

Lou Holtz is known to most as a funny guy who just happened to have a great deal of success while coaching at Arkansas, Notre Dame and South Carolina.  What most people don’t realize is just how good Coach Holtz is at prioritizing things.  He uses the acronym WIN for determining where to place his efforts.  WIN stands for “what’s important now?”  For many of us, including yours truly, that is a daily issue.

Stephen Covey also has a great methodology for helping each of us to determine where to place our efforts.  The grid that Covey developed is shown below:


When an issue appears there are two dimensions to determine the value of the item, Urgency and Importance.  Depending upon those two dimensions, you can prioritize the issues as Urgent and Important, Important but Not Urgent, Urgent but Not Important and Not Urgent and Not Important.  The value and precedence of the item is then ranked based on how it falls on the grid.

I know that in many cases I get caught up doing things that seem urgent, but in the grand scheme of things they are not so important.  Likewise, there are many things I do that are easily accomplished, but they are neither important or urgent.  Even attacking these easy things can take away value able time from issues that are Important and either Urgent or less Urgent.

My charge to you is to examine each thing you consider doing and looking at it from two views, What’s important Now and how it falls on the Covey grid.

I suspect that doing this review will reshuffle the order of what you do first.  It will also make you a much better leader and much more productive in fulfilling your role within your organization.

I have the capacity to do many things well.  This breadth of talents drags me into quadrant 3 and 4 on the Covey grid often.  Our team had a wonderful planning session last week and all of my staff members constantly encouraged me to spend my time in the 1 and 2 areas and less in the 3 and 4 areas.

It is hard to change, but I am going to do my best to do so.  It will take support and reminding, but I am up for the task.

What about you?