“What we prepare for is what we shall get.” —William Graham Sumner

We have all heard that preparation is the key to success. But what exactly does that mean in day-to-day terms?

In the cannabis industry, with regulations, products, and consumer demands constantly shifting, planning on the fly simply may not be an option, at least for those who want to stick around for the long haul. We spoke with Karson Humiston, founder and chief executive officer at Vangst, a cannabis job recruiting platform, and Jill Ellsworth, founder and chief executive officer at Willow Industries, a science-based company that helps reduce contaminants in cannabis. They provided us with some useful tips about how they prioritize tasks and make sure they’re ready for whatever the industry throws at them.

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Setting clear goals

It may seem obvious, but it is hard to overstate how important setting clear goals is to planning ahead and prioritizing tasks. “It’s easy to get pulled in a million directions given all of the things we have going on,” Humiston said. “It’s important to set annual, quarterly, and monthly goals and make sure that the monthly and quarterly goals are milestones to reach the annual goal.”

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Karson Humiston, founder and CEO, Vangst

Jill Ellsworth also plans ahead but puts a lot of effort into the present. “At the end of every day, I write one post-it note with the top five or six things I must accomplish the next day, keeping it very clear and concise,” Ellsworth said. “These post-it notes keep my priorities straight so when I am distracted throughout the day, I can manage deadlines.”

Using technology to help

There are a lot of useful apps and devices out there to help executives stay organized and set clear priorities.  “We use Asana to keep track of tasks,” Humiston said. Asana helps track projects efficiently and allows users to enter comments and notes on each task. “We have over 70 full-time employees,” Humiston explained. Without a tool such as Asana, Humiston would struggle to keep up with everything her staff is working on.

Ellsworth may be a fan of old-fashioned note-taking, but she still relies on modern technology to help prioritize. “As for devices I use, I certainly rely on my phone and laptop,” Ellsworth said. “I would love to say I use cool apps to manage my tasks, but for me, the simpler, the better.” She often uses email to send herself a list of tasks so she does not lose track of her thoughts.

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Jill Ellsworth, founder and CEO, Willow Industries

Relying on staff

There may be countless sports clichés on the importance of teamwork, but that does not mean they aren’t true. “When I was an inexperienced entrepreneur, I would try to do it all, and of course, fell short,” Ellsworth said. “That is when I learned how to properly delegate certain tasks. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a ton of credit to my team for helping me complete the tasks that are put on my plate.”

Humiston also recognizes that her priorities would not be met without her staff stepping up, but she knows that the vision of the organization starts with her. “A huge part of my role is making sure the team understand the goals and is set up to execute them,” Humiston said.