Business Advice: How Startup Founders Can Prioritize Efficiency

Forbes Publication

As an entrepreneur or startup founder, there are numerous tasks that you need to work on at any given moment. The skill is figuring out what to work on, when to work on it and what deserves immediate attention. Why is it so hard to prioritize in a startup business? At times:

Photo by Canva Studio on Pexels.com

• A huge deal is in progress that requires collaboration. Employees’ attention is now diverted.

• Clients are unsatisfied. Employees are now focused on customer service.

• Stakeholders in the organization want to change things around. As the founder, you’ll have to placate their needs.

• Technical issues slow the startup down.

• A potential partner wants to invest in your business. This requires drafting contracts and meeting deadlines.

You may find yourself leaping between these tasks daily. So, how can you prioritize the ins and outs of your startup? Let’s discuss exactly what you should be focusing on to ensure continued success.

Why do so many startups fail? 

To understand what you should focus on, it is first important to recognize why so many startups fail — lack of proper prioritization is only the tip of the iceberg.

PROMOTED

One of the reasons startups fail is because they run into the problem of having little or no market need for their particular services or products. Typically, this happens because there isn’t a compelling enough value proposition to motivate consumers to buy.

Startups may also face improper market timing. Ideally, startups should be ahead of the market, with proper forecasting enabling them to deliver products and services strategically.

Lack of prioritization also contributes to startup failure. Improper planning manifests as an ineffective management team. Unfortunately, inadequate management is a problem for many startups. Weak management teams make mistakes, including poor execution and not prioritizing key projects.

A lack of prioritization can eventually contribute to cash flow problems, another reason why many startups go under. One of the key responsibilities of a CEO is understanding cash flow and whether it will carry the company from quarter to quarter.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What do startups have to prioritize above all else? 

Above all else, I believe startups need to prioritize workplace efficiency. Startups in particular have returns that are under pressure. Put a spotlight on the value of employees carrying out the right tasks at the right time. By working efficiently, your team can produce more in the same amount of time. This will maximize productivity, contribute to positive cash flow, achieve more at a lower cost, and lead to higher returns.

Before tackling issues when it comes to workplace efficiency, it is important to recognize if your startup is productive in the first place. Productivity is vital for continued success, especially since the economic model of a startup can involve a lot of uncertainty.

You can measure your startup efficiency through several methods, with one of the popular methods being time management productivity. This method measures productivity by recording how employees use their work time. There are software programs that measure how much time employees spend being productive and dedicated to efficiency. Daily updates from employees, progress reports and transparency on daily tasks will not only measure efficiency, but also encourage dedication to the startup’s mission.

One of the best ways to encourage efficiency in the workplace is to properly onboard employees and respect their autonomy. Onboarding refers to the process of orientating new employees for success, and it goes beyond making a new employee feel welcomed.

Give employees the tools to familiarize themselves with their daily tasks and work culture. Then, give them opportunities to contribute to the culture. A successful onboarding program includes a thorough introduction to the startup’s mission, key players and roles that specific people or departments have.

Proper onboarding leads to autonomy. It is an essential element in an efficient workplace. I’ve found that it empowers employees to shape their environments and helps them realize that startup founders rely on and respect their contributions. Furthermore, it helps thwart feelings of disengagement, work dissatisfaction and apathy. An efficient startup includes efficient employees who feel like they are being understood.

Survival Of The Fittest: How To Overcome Common Startup Problems

FORBES Publication

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Creating a company that is not only going to survive but thrive is difficult. However, with a certain combination of elements, strong willpower and the right information, you can create a business that will stand the test of time.

Lack of funding is one of the biggest issues that new companies face, but other issues include product-market fit, not properly defining a custom problem and HR/people problems between founders and team members.

As a startup founder, I’d like to dive into each of these problems and lay out how startup founders can mitigate these issues to help ensure their companies survive and thrive.

Product-Market Fit

To start a successful business, you must offer a product or service that is sellable and that fits into a market, either niche or mainstream. You can have a product or a service that is fantastic and that you have spent years thinking up and developing, but without a proper market, it will be extremely difficult to secure investors who share your vision.

Consider this: 42% of businesses failed because there was no market need for them, according to 2014 CB Insights data. So, here are some key ways to determine whether or not you have product-market fit.

• Talk to your target audience via customer surveys to determine if there’s a need for your product or service.

• Make sure that the value proposition you’re proposing will address the current and future needs of your customers.

• Look for investors who not only want to sell your product but also invest in its development.

Defining A Custom Problem

Unless your product solves one specific problem, it will be difficult to justify why an investor should throw their hard-earned money into your idea. Your product needs to serve a purpose and, again, be sellable in order for investors to see that it has potential.

Investors need to know that you’ve considered not only the viability of your product, but also ways your product could evolve. Ask yourself what assumptions you’re making and whether you’ve validated your assumptions.

• Have you proven that your audience needs it?

• Have you explored (or considered) other ideas?

• Have you mitigated risks to ensure product success and return on investment?

People Problems

Yet another issue you may face involves your co-founder(s). Often, when one founder comes up with an idea and the other wants to go a different way, you may have trouble coming to a consensus about what you to do with the company.

• Write out all your ideas related to the topic in question on a whiteboard and determine the areas where you agree.

• If disagreements escalate, consider bringing in a consultant to facilitate open and honest discussion with your co-founder and perhaps your leadership team as well.

According to the same CB Insights data, 23% of companies failed due to having the wrong team. It is always best to take the time to get on the same page and to try to find a common goal and direction for the company.

• Remember, you’re a team.

• Create an environment where every person’s opinion is valued and appreciated.

• Set aside the time in your busy schedules for team meetings.

• Make effective communication a cornerstone of your company’s culture.

Lack Of Funding

Lack of funding is one of the hardest things for a company to overcome and many simply do not find the investors they need in order to thrive, let alone survive. Thousands of aspiring companies offer similar products. It is your job as a founder to make sure your company is the one that stands out. You must capture the eye, and the pocketbook, of the right investor to help your company succeed.

The key is to collect the proper metrics:

• Revenue generation

• What affects revenue generation

• Features that will drive growth and revenue generation

The goal is to improve the perceived value of your company to heighten its appeal to investors. Finding investors is the next step, which is easier if you know where to look.

• Contact companies that you admire and ask for advice. You may get a better response than if you come right out and ask for money.

• Develop relationships at networking events, conferences and more; you just might find an investor who is interested in your company and eager to invest.

Taking the time to create a strong base is the fastest way to get sound investors and make sure that your company will stand the test of time.