I used to have a lot of trouble figuring out what to prioritize and what to work on next. After all, one of the most exciting parts of startups is the infinite possibilities. I’d get caught up in spirals of possibility and doubt and long consideration.
Until I was given this advice:
Focus on what will kill you next.
Such simple but powerful advice. It means, don’t work about hypothetical contract issues or future hiring problems. Figure out the problem that will land you dead if you don’t solve it today.
Now, whenever I feel overwhelmed by all of the things we could and should be working on, I sit down and think. What are the things that I’m most worried about threaten the survival of my company. That list is remarkably easy to make.
Then I figure out which of those things we have to tackle first.
Marketplaces are particularly tricky startup specimens — at any given time you have to worry about the state of your demand and your supply plus the platform that makes transacting possible and seamless.
So at any given time, I have a most urgent supply problem that will kill us if we don’t figure out, a most urgent demand problem and certainly endless product priorities.
There is always the list.
But asking yourself which thing will kill me first? That keeps you focused on the most critical so you live to fight another day.