Best Practices

MOSourceLink: How to Prioritize Your Entrepreneurial Ideas

Published Apr 25, 2014

Meet Weston Bergmann, founder and lead investor of BetaBlox. This Kansas City business incubator has acquired 5 percent of roughly 60 startups in the last two years alone. He’s also an active angel investor and loves connecting growth capital to entrepreneurs in various startup communities across the United States. 

I’ve invested in a lot of Kansas City-based early-stage ventures. One of the first companies I invested in raised a quarter of a million dollars to take advantage of a purchase order that would ultimately make them millionaires over the course of five years. Without getting into intricacies of the business, the product they were selling was marketed to youth soccer players. We spent months coming up with ideas, whiteboarding strategies and building a roadmap.

Then the holidays rolled around and my St. Louis-based cousins came in town to visit. My cousins were avid soccer players and a perfect example of the target market for this company. I spent 2 minutes explaining to my cousins what we were doing, and they spent 30 minutes explaining to me what all they would want from such a product.

At the time, they were 12 and 15—and in those 30 minutes, they mentioned every single idea that our MBAs, experienced entrepreneurs and myself had come up with in months of planning.

It was a slap in the face to our egos and intelligence.

So why am I telling you this story? Here’s the punch line: anyone can come up with ideas.

Everyone knows what features could be built. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The problem is that startups have limited time, money and resources.

What’s important is not what to build, but when to build it.

What features to add, what SEO strategy to take advantage of, what bells and whistles should be added, etc. are easy to think up. The anecdote above proves the point that there are a borderline infinite number of things that a company can be working on.

But how does the founder and his/her team decide which of those activities are important, and how many should they work on at once?

In a word: priorities. Using a consistent system to prioritize those tasks is vital to the productivity of an entrepreneur.

Introducing Kanban

Kanban is a strategy for prioritizing workflow. It’s used very heavily in a lot of software circles, but honestly it works for just about any business that wants to increase the productivity of its team.

I hear you. You’re thinking: “So you’re going to make me more productive by adding another thing to do?”

Yeah, your first reaction might be a digital eye-roll, but don’t knock it until you try it. Prioritizing workflow can greatly improve the productivity of a startup.

Content contributed by Sarah Mote, MOSourceLink.  MOSourcelink is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America's largest resource network for entrepreneurs.