The Dangers of Not Prioritizing Could Cost You Billions

a year ago   •   2 min read

By Zero Machina

What if your next good idea actually hurts your results?

Shiny objects are everywhere. They come as new business ideas, requests from team members and stakeholders, and new projects. It's easy to get distracted and lose sight of what's truly important.

There are serious consequences to not prioritizing. And if you're not careful, you'll chase your tail and waste precious time.

A Billion-Dollar Problem and Opportunity

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” - Henry Ford

In 2010, KISSmetrics co-founder Hiten Shah had a billion-dollar idea in the palm of his hand.

Just two years prior, the analytics company was struggling to build traction. Two failed product attempts forced them to take a step back, reflect, and prioritize. The solution became clear: go back to basics. They needed to target people willing to pay for their solution, gain clarity on their customer avatar, and solve problems the market actually wanted.

They stopped building what they thought their market wanted and began spending time talking to their customers.

Soon, they identified an under-serviced niche in the analytics market that even Google wasn’t capitalizing on.

These people had a real need and were willing to pay for a solution. KISSmetrics struck gold. They began quickly building the right products and satisfying the needs of this underserved niche.

The customer feedback was phenomenal and word-of-mouth grew.

By 2010, KISSmetrics found itself 3 years ahead of the market with no signs of slowing down. Setting priorities and execution put them on the path to reinventing the analytics marketplace and being a leader in the space.

A billion-dollar opportunity was in the palm of their hands.  It was theirs to lose—and unfortunately, they did.

Shiny Objects Will Veer You Off-Course

“Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity” – H. Jackson Brown Jr

As their success grew, Hiten was motivated to develop features beyond their core solution.

New ideas and innovations filled his mind thanks to competitors, investors, advisors, friends, and his own creativity. They all seemed important to the company's success. Hiten wanted to bring these ideas to life. So almost every day, he asked the team to prioritize these shiny objects.

As a result, the team veered off-course. They were juggling too many projects and lost sight of the big picture.

They stopped prioritizing what made them successful: giving customers what they wanted. The team's frustration grew as everything became a priority. As a result, they started to actively work against Hiten and ignore his ideas. Eventually, the entire team became apathetic and lost sight of their top priorities.

Before long, KISSmetrics found itself at the mercy of competitors who had managed to catch up while the company was distracted.

Even with a 3-year head-start, their golden opportunity had vanished.

Always Prioritize, Even When You're Succeeding

Prioritization is a key time management principle.

And the dangers of not prioritizing are severe. You can lose focus, opportunities, and even your team's morale. KISSmetrics is a great reminder of this. Opportunities can slip through your fingers when you lose sight of what's most important.  On the flip side, focusing on your top priorities can help you succeed in ways you never thought possible.

Don’t let yourself get sidetracked by shiny objects, and don't be afraid to say "no."  Your success depends on it.

Want to learn more about the process of prioritizing? Check out our article: Elimination Is the Key to Managing an Excessive Workload.

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