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How to Set Self-Priorities as a Business Owner

Jonathan M. Gardey, MBA, CFA®, CFP®

President and Chief Executive Officer 

As a business owner, it can be hard to set day-to-day and especially long-term priorities for yourself when there are so many other things going on around you. Your staff has questions, someone called in sick, or your vendors need to unload product and get paid, etc. etc. etc. It never ends, right?

But the health and survival of your business depends on you being able to set priorities, put together a to-do list, and get things done. So, to help you get started, here’s a quick three-step guide to setting priorities as a business owner. 

Step 1: Ask the Tough Questions

You’re the leader and visionary of your business which means it’s your job to focus on the big picture. So, start at the top when setting priorities by asking some questions about your current tasks and projects:

● Does this help further your mission? If not, why are you doing it? Instead, what will help meet your mission?

● Will this help your business grow? If not, what would help spur growth?

● Are you staying within your strengths? Do some soul-searching. Anything that you are not good at, you can delegate or outsource.

● What holes are there in your organization? Many companies are having a challenging time hiring right now. If that is something you also are struggling with, how can you attract new employees and how can you retain the ones you have?

These questions aren’t easy, but they are important. Set aside some uninterrupted time and maybe even ask for input from your most trusted employees to give you some insight.

Step 2: Design a Model Week to Protect Your Time

As much as we all love our businesses, there is one major downside of being an entrepreneur. At times, it feels like you can never escape your business. Even when you’re not sitting at your desk, you’re reading about business or you’re talking about business, or you’re coming up with a million new ideas for your business.

So, how do you make sure that work gets done but you still make space for your life?  

When it comes to how you approach your week, you have a choice:

1. You can live by your own rules, designing and controlling the hours in your day.


2. You can live by default, reacting to the needs and demands of others and being a slave to the hours in your day. 

Designing a model calendar is about consciously designing the way you approach your work week so you can make time for things besides the business. It goes a little something like this:

Step 1: Break your weekly calendar down by hours. Step 2: Block out personal and family time. Step 3: Create your office hours. Step 4: Map out your work week—including time for long-term projects and the day-to-day activities.

Some business owners like to map it out by day. Mondays are CEO days, where they work in and on the business. Tuesdays are reserved for client calls. Wednesdays are for marketing. Thursdays are for ongoing client work. And Fridays are half-days where the morning serves as a catch-all and the afternoon is mostly free.

Of course, this is just one example and choosing what works best for you will depend on the type of business you run and other things like whether you are a parent, grandparent, or volunteer, for example.  

Step 3: Monitor Your Progress. Take Stock of Your Well-being.

Anything worth your time is worth doing right, which means you’ll want to check in on yourself along the way. Quite simply, are you making progress? Crunch the numbers, do some analysis, and take stock of how you are doing. Some examples are:

1. Are you meeting your goals?  

2. Are you able to get your priorities done?  

3. If not, what is getting in your way?  

Try to remove any distractions or delegate work that others can do so you can focus on the priorities you have set. Certain times of the year can be harder for certain kinds of businesses. You may find yourself off track at times and on track during other times. Always try to adjust and stay consistent.  

And remember: If you don’t prioritize your time, someone else will do it for you, and they don’t know what’s best for you or your business.  

For more information about the comprehensive planning services we provide, we encourage you to visit our site, learn more about our services, and see if we could be a good match. We best serve clients looking for exceptional client service, who value a long-term partnership, and have minimum of $500,000 in investable assets.  

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