Venturing into the world of entrepreneurship is as daunting as it is exciting. The chances are that you have had dreams of setting up your own business for years. However, unlike your peers who also hanker after the freedom of working for themselves yet never take the plunge, you have resigned from your full time job to give your startup dreams a go. You have forfeited your career, your excellent promotion prospects, your steady and reliable wage, and the camaraderie of colleagues, all in the quest for more job satisfaction.
Beginning your own business is no easy task. With the wealth of competition jostling for position in every sector, it is becoming more difficult for fledgling startups to find their foothold within a niche. Preparation is key, so you need to have a sound business vision, funding channels, and financial forecasting in place before you even consider telling your boss that you’re heading off to pastures new.
Only one in five startups survive their first eighteen months of trading. While you may think that the eighty percent that fail do so because of poor market research, a lack of funding or an inability to compete with industry rivals, you shouldn’t neglect the importance of efficiency. Being efficient is vital if your entrepreneurial dreams are to survive. Wasting money, time and resources will only lead to failure. Take a look at how your business can run like a well oiled and efficient machine.
Change Up Your Ethos
You can tell the vibe of a business within the first ten seconds of walking through the office doors. If you observe a sea of morose faces staring blankly at their laptops, you know that this is a company with little or no interaction between colleagues. You want to foster a team of people who can converse freely, chat about ideas over the water cooler and who relish voicing their opinions. You want your staff members to actually talk to one another face to face. Sending an instant message or whizzing off an email may seem a more efficient use of time as your employees can then stay at their desks and work on other things, but electronic messages can often have the opposite effect. Tones and meaning can be misconstrued, and messages can often become lost in translation. A more effective use of time would be to walk to somebody’s desk, have a quick and clear two-minute conversation and then return to work.
This is even more important when you need to have a meeting. While Skype has its place when people are scattered across the country or even internationally, this technological advancement is a waste of time if all attendees are in the same building. Get together in a room and thrash out your ideas. It is easier to gauge responses using verbal cues, and you won’t have to spend your time relying on technology.
Automate The Admin
Investigate the option of automating your payroll. Rather than going through your payroll yourself which risks the possibility of human error, set up a computerized assistant who can periodically sort payroll for you including 401(k) and tax considerations. You might even want the weekly catch up email to staff being sent automatically from your email account. This saves you forgetting or being late with your communications. Business automation improves efficiency as well as maintaining high standards.
Task management systems are also fantastic ways of creating routine. A business that relies on good habits and order tends to have a sound structure. This sort of startup is less faddy and frantic. By having a clear, yet malleable routine, your startup won't be phased by an extra meeting here or there. Those new businesses with a lack of task management risk missing appointments or double booking, appearing amateurish and disorganized.
The Multitasking Myth
While you may think you can have your fingers in many pies at the same time, this could be a fallacy. You want your business to run smoothly, but also to maintain the highest standards and quality. To be working on the prep for a client meeting and an international marketing campaign, as well as a pitch to a business angel, is a lot of varied tasks to get your head around. Working on these at the same time risks the mediocre creeping into your daily life. Is it better to get three tasks done quickly but to an average standard or one task to an exceptional standard?
Try to prioritize the tasks you need to complete and set timescales for them. Don’t be afraid to focus on one thing at a time in an effort to ensure the highest quality of work. You entered into the entrepreneurship realm because you wanted to become an industry leader. Make sure you continue to uphold your standards and stay proud of your work.
Don’t Be A Dogsbody
Just because the buck stops with you doesn’t mean it should fall on your shoulders to fix the printer or change the toner in the photocopier. These relatively menial and mundane tasks should not be interrupting your flow during your day. There’s nothing worse than trying to be productive at your laptop only for a knock at your door to jar you from your concentration every ten minutes. Technological issues such as dropped WiFi or a dodgy printer can occur in any workplace. Outsource the maintenance of your IT to an external company who can sort out any issues quickly and remotely, so you don’t have to be disturbed.
Having an open door policy is vital if you are to be a communicative and approachable employer. However, your door can be open at regular set times not all the time. This way, your staff team will know when they can voice any concerns or come and see you to talk something through and when they need to leave you to work on more important things.
Have a regular ten minute staff meeting at the beginning of every day setting out short, medium and long term goals. By refocusing the minds of your staff members at nine am each morning and giving them a short window in which to air any concerns, they are less likely to bother you at other times during the day. This ten minutes may seem like wasted time, but try it for a week. Without a doubt, you will find fewer bodies knocking on your office door as they have had the opportunity to raise issues earlier on in the day.
As a business owner, you will want to save money, energy, time and resources wherever possible. At the same time, you don’t want to scrimp and save so much that it is at the detriment of your service or product. By finding the perfect balance, you will be able to maintain an efficient startup that fosters a positive working ethos, where everyone buys into the business vision and where financial goals can be realized. Make your business efficient, and your entrepreneurial dreams will come true.