I was at an event recently where a very successful serial entrepreneur was present. He has founded and built some of the most well known companies in India.
A researcher was also present at that event whose current research topic is “Decision Making Frameworks for Entrepreneurs”. The researcher asked the successful business person what his decision making framework has been that led to success.
Just as most entrepreneurs would say that there’s no single decision making framework and decisions are highly contextual in nature, the business person however highlighted a framework that he’s followed all along.
This is what he said, “33% of an entrepreneurs activities should be that of the past, 33% activities in present and 33% for Future”.
What he meant was that a third of an entrepreneur’s time should be spent on learning from the Past – Analyzing the past for learning…What worked, what did not work, why some strategies failed and why some worked.
Another 3rd should be spent in the Present – What needs to be done, all of the operational activities and tasks at hand.
The final 3rd of the time should be spent on business plan for the Future – As per his experience, this bit is the most crucial bit and yet ignored by most entrepreneurs as they get deeply engrossed in the running of the business. Planning ahead adequately is what will give a business the lead and keep it ahead of the competition.
As a founder and especially if you are a young business, there’s way too much juggling between different roles. The operational activities consume most of the available bandwidth leaving us with little mental capacity to devise a future business plan and to invest time in future activities.
But, some things just can’t be refuted and to succeed, they need to be followed as a rule of thumb.
Time management always remains a big challenge for us. While I am trying to figure out some workable methods to overcome this challenge, here’s what I have started to do:
Let’s say my work day is 8 hours. I divide the 8 hours into 4 2-hour windows.
The first 2 or 3 windows are dedicated to the most urgent tasks – the operational tasks that need to be done and executed to keep the business going.
The 4th window remains reserved for future activities. The future activities need to be consistently kept warm so the efforts will hatch and be beneficial a few months/years from now. Lack of dedicated time to the future activities may result in a dead-end like situation where the founder needs to ask, “What Next”? Of course, there’s always something to do next however if we could plan for that “Next” well in advance, it certainly gives us the desired edge over similar businesses.
So, Learn from the Past, Live in the Present, and Plan for the Future
How do you incorporate future business planning and effort into your work schedule? Do you consciously make an effort or leave it to chance?
I am very keen on hearing your opinions. Do share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Nidhi holds an MBA in Innovation & Entrepreneurship from Imperial College, London. Her work experience includes Technology Consulting at Accenture and Techno-Functional roles at a few startups in London.
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.