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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin

𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗙𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁: 𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗼 𝗣𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘇𝗲

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

The stakes on an operating table can be high. If unexpected complications occur, swiftly prioritizing critical next steps may be necessary.

Though usually not a matter of life and death, a startup founder must consistently and critically prioritize their time.

Start by clearly defining your vision and values to form a foundation for future significant decisions.

Then, commit to balancing strategy and execution by assessing progress on long-term goals and adapting while addressing immediate needs.

You also need to innovate. The more you experiment with new products, services, and processes, the more likely you are to improve your business.

With every test, mitigate risk (e.g. limiting budget or starting with a small group of customers) and measure impact.

🚦 After 6-8 weeks, stop what’s not working, double down on success, or adjust the experiment if you remain unsure of the best process and benefits.


When prioritizing, consider business value, urgency, interdependency (others stuck without your progress), impact, costs, timeline, and other criteria.

“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree, and

I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

- Abraham Lincoln

The key is planning. Make a list of all your current initiatives, projects, and ideas, assign each one a priority score, and choose ONLY 3-5 priorities.

Designate one owner for each priority. That person may share responsibility for completion but owns communicating and reporting progress.

Delegate where possible. While delegation requires more work initially, it helps to scale your effort, broaden your impact, and level up other leaders.


Block time on your calendar for each priority. Be realistic and designate enough time to make significant progress.

Review the connection between priorities, time, and results. The more often you evaluate, the better you can adapt and reach the desired outcomes.

Ideally, share metrics to create accountability and encourage collaboration.


Airbnb started in 2008 and now has a market cap of $85B (Sept.). The company had to majorly reprioritize its efforts several times in its history.*

In 2011, a host's place was trashed. Critics quickly marked the end. However, Airbnb started offering hosts a $50K guarantee and regained their trust.

Another significant test came in 2020. During the pandemic's onset, Airbnb once again prioritized its hosts by reimbursing them for lost rentals.

Throughout these challenges, Airbnb prioritized decisions based on its vision and values. They acted quickly and emphasized the long-term horizon.

Uncertainty and challenges are inevitable. Continuously prioritize and measure your efforts to achieve the best possible outcomes.


Photo by JC Gellidon who can be found here

* The podcast Crucible Moments had Brian Chesky talk in detail about Airbnb’s journey.

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