Small Business Owners Should Beware of Pursuing R.O.E. (Return on Ego)

01/13/2014 12:54 pm ET | Updated Mar 15, 2014

Technology has blown the doors wide open for many entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs to pursue myriad opportunities. But how do you decide which ones to pursue? The key is to pursue the opportunities that further your goals, not your ego.

As an entrepreneur, would be entrepreneur (or even as an employee), you need to have long-term and short term goals. If you don't know where you are going, it's incredibly difficult to plot a course to get there. These goals should become the yardstick that you measure your tasks against.

If you are deciding which opportunities to prioritize, which to take if you have time and which to leave, you should evaluate if they support your goals by asking:

  • Will this opportunity/activity help me to achieve my goal? (If yes, continue. If no, abort!)
  • Will this opportunity/activity allow me to achieve my goal more quickly or efficiently than another opportunity or activity that I can be pursuing? (If yes, continue. If no, prioritize the other activity.)
  • Does this opportunity/activity have a significant downside that makes me hesitant to pursue it, at least for now? (If yes, evaluate the risks rewards. If no, continue.)
  • Look at the return on your investment (aka "R.O.I"). Is what you have to invest in order to achieve your goal worth the payoff that you get -- AKA what you can achieve as a milestone towards your goal?

*If you answer "I don't know" to any of the above, figure it out before moving forward...

The big issue is when you, like other entrepreneurs and business owners, start making choices based on R.O.E. ("Return on Ego") versus R.O.I. It is a big ego stroke to have people responding or sharing your material on Facebook or Twitter, doing a media appearance or participating in a high profile conference. But if that opportunity is not supporting your goal, or isn't the best way to achieve your goal quickly and efficiently, then pursue the opportunity that will.

Until there is a currency tied to the size of your ego, doing activities that support your goals is a better investment.