If You Are an Entrepreneur, GTD Is for YouAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"What will take me to the end will be my steps, not the path" ~ Fito & Fitipaldis, Spanish music band
An entrepreneur is, according to the dictionary, someone who undertakes difficult or hazardous actions with determination. Wikipedia adds, more specifically, that it is a person who designs, launches and operates a business, based on an innovation.
An entrepreneur needs to be a leader as well as a manager. Leading means seizing opportunities, taking risks, distinguishing the important from the urgent, setting priorities, organizing work accordingly and making all kinds of decisions. Managing means doing things effectively to achieve the desired results.
In situations of great uncertainty, where an innovative product has to be pivoted with sufficient agility to be adjusted as soon as possible to market demand, is where the application of GTD can really make a difference.
GTD is based on efficiently managing our internal and external commitments, making things run smoothly by developing the habit of consistently deciding what’s next. It is, therefore, a useful tool for all kinds of people, regardless of their environment and workload. However, there are certain groups—and entrepreneurs is one of them—for whom the use of GTD can be not only a help, but a crucial tool for success.
If you have an idea that you want to develop and you have designed, even if only mentally, everything that needs to be done to bring it to fruition, then you have a plan. You may even be further along and have already defined a real business plan. In any case, the main problem with any plan is that you have to execute it within certain constraints. You have to know when to do what needs to be done and effectively complete each action that will lead you to the desired result.
If you are creating a company, do you need to implement GTD in a particular way? Basically, no. The methodology is as suitable for an entrepreneur as it is for any other person. However, you can approach it in a way that allows you to concentrate more and better on the development of your idea. In my experience, these tips can help you in each of the five stages of GTD.
If capturing 100% of the things that come to your mind is a standard GTD behavior, for entrepreneurs it is essential. Any idea, no matter how absurd it may seem to you today, can make a difference to your product tomorrow. Any information you find can facilitate your development or open new doors. Unleash your creativity and capture absolutely everything that comes to mind, without prejudice, as if it was a brainstorming exercise. There will be time to rule things out later.
When clarifying things you must be consistent with your strategic plan. Add to your Next Actions lists those tasks that are important to achieve the viable product and your most important short-term goals. Tasks that are not strictly necessary right now can be added to the Someday/Maybe list to be re-evaluated at a later date.
You need to know your strengths and weaknesses. If your economy allows it, try to delegate or outsource those actions that are related to your weak spots. Focus on doing what you do best and what you are passionate about.
When organizing, keep in mind that, although you have one main goal (to create a profitable and sustainable business), it’s best to tackle it in pieces. Define a project for every outcome that needs several actions, to make sure that everything is under control. If a project has several parts that can be managed in parallel or by different teams or people, define sub-projects so that you can efficiently track each of those parts. Classify, label and archive all the reference material that can support these projects so that they are easily accessible.
Regularly reflecting on everything related to your personal and business management is essential to keep all components up to date and cohesive. Don’t skip the Weekly Review no matter how crazy the week has been, it will give you peace of mind and allow you to stay focused on the important things.
In addition to weekly reviews, in entrepreneurial situations it is highly recommended to do bigger-picture reviews at longer intervals: a monthly review to check that you are on track to achieve your quarterly goals, a quarterly review to see how you are doing against your annual goals, and an annual review to realign your strategy with your overall business vision.
If you perform the first four steps of GTD as recommended by the methodology and follow these specific tips for entrepreneurs, then the last step, engage will fall under its own weight. When all actions are in your system, aligned with your purpose and goals, it’s easy to decide what you should focus on at any given moment. Your GTD system, well supported by your strategic plan, will help you clarify the path and make the best decisions.