One of the advantages a start-up or small businesses is its ability to be far more productive than its larger competitors. There so much work to do that entrepreneurs can feel overwhelmed by the workload. How does a small business ensure that productivity is optimized?
Eliminate unnecessary tasks that do not impact revenue or move the company towards its milestones. Small businesses need to be efficient and highly productive. If you can’t associate the task with creating, building and growing the business, why are you doing it at all? Along this vein, don’t keep the staff in unnecessary meetings. Once I did a survey inside a large company, staff employees spent 50% of their day in meetings when they should be doing tangible work that yields results. Don’t act like a Fortune 1000 company.
Automate whenever possible. Most of us work the same way. We start by doing sometime manually until we figure out what we need to do. Then we streamline the process and determine how to do it more efficiently. Next look to see how much of the procedure can be automated.
Outsource as much as possible. Here’s my rule. If you know something has to be done and you’re just not getting around to doing it, then find someone who can do it. If a task goes on the “to-do” list week after week, it’s a sign that you should outsource it. Also, hire others or outsource routine and mundane tasks. The entrepreneur should focus on doing tasks that add value to the company. You can easily hire someone to do your website design.
Create a schedule. If the staff has no schedule to work towards then progress is haphazard and is often made in fits and starts. It reminds me of a fish on the shore furiously flapping as it desperately tries to make its way back to the water. The flapping motion creates little forward progress and expends an immense amount of energy. Unrealistic schedules have the same effect as no schedule at all. They are viewed as being unattainable or ridiculous. Consider bottoms up approach. Have the staff define their own schedules and then negotiate the final schedule from this starting point. I have found staffs to be 25% to 33% overly optimistic.
It’s lonely at the top. An entrepreneur truly becomes a leader when they understand the meaning of this cliché. While an entrepreneur may want to treat the staff like friends and buddies, there are many issues that cannot be discussed with a staff. The staff needs to remain motivated and focused on their work. The staff needs to keep up its morale. If you need a certain level of sales in the upcoming months, don’t tell the staff it’s a meet the target or close scenario – some staff members won’t hunker down and get to work, instead they may polish their resumes and start looking for a new job. Be careful of what you say.
About the Author
Cynthia Kocialski is the founder of three tech start-ups companies. In the past 15 years, she has been involved in dozens of start-ups. Cynthia writes the Start-up Entrepreneurs’ Blog (www.cynthiakocialski.com) and has written the book, “Startup From The Ground Up – Practical Insights for Entrepreneurs, How to Go from an Idea to New Business” (www.startupfromthegroundup.com).