I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of early entrepreneurs about bootstrapping. One of these founders asked about execution when you’re bootstrapping—specifically, how to execute and move the business forward when you have limited resources and limited help.
My response was simple. Early-stage founders can’t do everything they’re thinking about, especially when they’re bootstrapping. They don’t have the finances and likely don’t have the manpower. Figure out what the most important next milestone is and what actions get you closer to it. Focus intensely on those actions. Don’t worry about the other stuff. Said differently, figure out the 20% of activities that will make 80% of the difference in getting you to your next milestone.
Focus is important when you’re an early-stage company. You have tons of balls in the air, and you’re adding more all the time. Many early-stage founders (myself included) try to keep juggling all those balls, but it’s just not possible. You don’t have enough hands. It’s better to figure out which of the balls matter most (given your stage). Keep the critical balls in the air and let the others drop (for now).
Homing in on what’s most important is easier said than done, but it can be the difference between success and failure for early-stage companies (especially when they’re bootstrapped).