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:
• 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.
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.
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.