Letting Fires Burn

In my experience as an entrepreneur one of the hardest day-to-day battles is prioritizing. As an entrepreneur who is now fortunate enough to be running a funded company, this has never been more true than right now.

I’ve long been a believer in letting fires burn. By that, what I mean is, having priorities, a short list of priorities, and anything that is outside of that list of priorities is ‘a fire and it needs to burn.’

As CEO of Citysquares, my list of priorities is more strategic than it is tactical. For instance, one of the priorities on my list might be “get this damn sales engine firing on all pistons.” Really – that’s written down on a yellow piece of paper on my desk. That priority is a big priority – and it involves lots of tactics, but that doesnt mean I should get bogged down in the tactics. That’s why I hire people. The employees help with the execution, it’s my job to see it through from start to finish. Anything that is not in-line with that priority, strategically or tactically, is a distraction – a non-priority – and it needs to go on the “back burner” as they say. I don’t care for the “back burner” expression. I prefer, instead, to say that it’s a fire and it needs to burn! But hey – that’s what it is. It’s a little brush fire that needs to burn itself out. If the fire grows to be larger than a brush fire, well than it needs attention and someone needs to put it out.

Now that I have a board of directors to answer to, investors to please, goals to meet, a vision to reach, a real and growing staff to manage, this philosophy is only becoming more and more critical. Since we’ve become funded I’ve found myself doing a lot of operational things – things that just need to get done so everyone can get to work and do so more efficiently than ever before. Most of that stuff is done, and I now find myself taking a little time to regroup – to get even more focused, to assess those priorities and get situated and ready to go. I guess I need that once in a while, time to regroup and assess.

Right now, my priority is to assess my priorities. Anything else is a distraction – a fire, and it needs to burn.