Running a startup is one of the most rewarding experiences, but it can also be overwhelming regardless of whether it is your first or tenth business. As your business grows so too does your to-do list. Unfortunately you are often limited by time and resources to finish everything. But if you don’t deliver every day your growth will stagnate. What’s more, your team relies on you to get your side of the work done, otherwise they cannot move forward either. The following tips can help keep your business running smoothly and even facilitate growth.
With the fast pace of startups you’ll need to keep track of all the tasks you need to complete before the end of the day. Notebooks and post-it notes might be handy for when you’re in the office but ultimately they are easy to forget when you’re on the go. Instead, use your smartphone to take notes either in the standard notepad or use a task management app like Evernote. You can jot ideas and tasks on the fly, share your lists with team members and, of course, tick them off once you have completed it. This can keep you focused on the most pressing matters and get those finished before tackling the smaller tasks.
Have a Budget and Follow It
This might seem like common sense, but so many startups do not have a good handle on their finances. In fact, poor money management is one of the top reasons businesses fail. Most startups underestimate how much it will cost to bring on new hires, consultants, purchase equipment and so on. If you’re simply guessing how much employees and hardware will cost, you’ll likely spend up much more than you actually have. Carefully budget out every expense and find ways you can cut costs as much as possible:
- Office space – if you have less than 20 employees you don’t really need office space. Instead, look into co-working spaces. These can often cost around $500 per desk or less. Some spaces even charge per day.
- Employees – Rather than hire full-time workers try to get part-time or freelancers whenever possible but only pay them what you would if they worked for you full-time. Many freelance consultants will charge an exorbitant amount for their time but you can often talk them down if they truly like your idea.
- Budget tracking – Even if you have a budget, if you don’t know exactly where you are spending the money it can be easy to rack up miscellaneous charges. A great service for your personal and business finances is Mint.com. This service allows you to see all of your charges across your business checking and credit cards in one place. You can easily set up monthly budgets and break down exactly where you expect to spend your money. Even better, you can set up some goals for your business. It can range from anything to paying off your loans to setting up a slush fund.
Manage Your Team
Regardless of whether your team is virtual or not, you need to make sure they can deliver the product or service on time. Project management is the cornerstone of every successful business, but without proper oversight can lead to your startups downfall. If you don’t want to create your own system, you can use one of the many project management tools available. One of the more flexible tools is Asana. This service allows you to oversee several different projects all in one place without the use of email. You can add notes, comments, attachments and tags for each task as can the people assigned to the task. As well, when you follow the different projects and tasks you can easily see any changes that were made and how quickly it is progressing. It’s one of the best ways to see exactly how far along your project is and where there might be problems.
Many entrepreneurs view networking as a necessary evil, but it doesn’t have to be painful experience. While it’s always a good idea to meet up with others within your group and potential investors, it’s even more important to connect with your audience. Find a group of people who might be interested in what you have to offer and then form real connections with them. A great way to do this is to join Meetup and search for groups that have something to do with your business. Obviously, you don’t want to approach these people with a sales pitch. Instead, you should see what they want in regards to this particular interest and if your business fills a specific need. Once you’ve gotten to know the people you can start introducing your company. It might take a while but you’ll gain some loyal supporters.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own. All of the successful business owners today depended on friends, family and partners to help them get their startup off the ground. So ask for help if you need it, whether it is monetary or an introduction to a potential investor. Putting aside your pride and allowing others to give advice or money can be the difference between a failing or successful business.