You started your small business with so many ideas, energy and enthusiasm. But now it’s a few weeks or months down the line, and you realise that you haven’t passed nearly as many milestones as you expected you would by now.
Unfortunately, not all of us have the skills (just yet) to handle the obstacles coming at us on a daily basis, boost work productivity during tough times, and reach our goals. So, how are you supposed to ‘make it’ in a competitive business environment?
Firstly, remember we all have our own strengths and you should use them as your foundation. But not knowing instinctively what to do in all circumstances, doesn’t mean we can’t learn from those who do get it right. So, how do you get over the hurdles? One of the best places to find inspiration and guidance is from those leading startups.
A startup is a unique scenario, far different from corporate environments, and it shares many similarities with your growing small business. For one thing, you need to know how to make the most of limited resources while you’re still growing. No one knows this better than Michael Rosenbaum who has managed three different startups, including Parkhound. We asked him for some insight on optimising productivity.
When running a startup or small business, it’s easy to get sucked into a hectic daily schedule and start living and breathing the business. As the leader in a company, you wear many hats and your to-do list will keep filling up.
Your small business needs to have a strong leader at the helm. If you don’t get enough sleep or don’t follow the habits of a healthy lifestyle such as a proper diet and exercise, it will affect your productivity in the long run. You should aim to avoid:
- Low energy levels
- Loss of creative thinking
- Stress, which doesn’t bode well for your relationships with employees
The decisions you make today about your health will determine whether you reach your business goals. Make your own well being at least as important as the business itself.
Celebrate the Small Stuff
When you do get busy with your to-do list, it’s still important to stop, look at what you achieved and celebrate it; even if it’s small in comparison to what you’re hoping for.
It’s human nature to want to see progress. It may take you a while to achieve the results you’re after but if you celebrate the smaller wins along the way, it motivates you to keep going. Without some victories, you and your team may feel you’re getting nowhere, which can start impacting productivity levels.
Practical tip: As part of good work habits, schedule a weekly celebration for yourself or with your team, writing down the achievements of the past 7 days.
Utilise Technology to Speed Up Your Workflows
The faster you can complete tasks, the more items you’ll be able to tick off your list at the end of the day. This is especially important in small businesses when you have a small team that has a lot to handle. You may not have the capital to hire additional help yet, so find ways to make work easier for team members – and these tips can apply to you too. Harness the power of technology in order to:
- Free up time, so everyone can tend to more tasks a day
- Simplify tasks, to make it less strenuous
- Promote synergy between team members
Luckily, in the twenty-first century, there is a range of tools you can use to streamline processes and benefit productivity levels. Here are just a few practical examples:
- Implement a proper system of communication that helps you and your team members stay up to date with what’s required. If you capture everything on a digital platform and provide real-time information for all involved, there’s better visibility and accountability.
- Engaging on a chat platform can be helpful, but it’s not the solution for all communication. Explaining a new task to a colleague can take a long time with back-and-forth messaging. Rather, consider recording a short video of you speaking or showing him or her what to do. You can use your PC’s camera, record your screen with your audio and even edit it within minutes. This takes less time and will usually deliver a message clearer than written text, so you’re preventing misunderstandings and unnecessary mistakes.
- Automation is becoming more popular and accessible by the day. By automating general tasks, you can free up team members’ time so they can be more productive. From marketing to accounting to your email responses, you’ll find resources to help automate almost everything.
Yes, some of these methods do require capital investment, such as purchasing software. But in the long run—thanks to how much more work you’ll get done each day—it will be worth every cent.
Deadlines Keep You On Track and On Time
If you’re wondering why you aren’t reaching as many goals as you wish to, look at how many you have allocated hard deadlines to. Deadlines should be in place even for small, daily tasks, and you should allocate a time frame to each.
Do a test for the next week. Start each morning with a quick planning session:
- Make a rough estimate of how long each task will take you
- Schedule that item into your diary, allocating only that amount of time to it
- Use reminders and alarms to tell you when it’s time to move on to a different task
- You can use your calendar to block out time for each task, and don’t forget to schedule in your breaks as well
You’re bound to be surprised at how much more you get done when you get organised! Because your time isn’t as flexible as usual, you’re subconsciously pushing yourself to perform as fast as possible.
These same principles will help your team perform faster. Set up deadlines for as many tasks as possible and expect your team to keep to them.
Practical tip: Use a timer app that blocks you from social media and even checking messages while it’s running. This prevents unnecessary distractions.
Develop a Learning Culture
To become more productive and more efficient, learning is essential. It’s the only way you and your small business can stay up to date with what your project or industry requires of you. So, motivate your team to stay curious and take chances, so they can learn from experiments and mistakes. This can help productivity in the long run.
Practical tip: Inspire others to stay curious and learn, by asking what areas they would like to learn about. Then empower them to do so, potentially through upskilling or learning programs.
Reward Team Members in Ways That Matter
Your team is everything and keeping them happy and motivated will only make your job easier in the long run.
Firstly, ensure they have all the equipment they need to work properly. If they’re working from home do they have a proper distraction-free zone?
Secondly, what are creative ways you could make their daily life better? Could you offer a bi-monthly mental health day off or even organise discounted parking for them if they’re going into the office and searching for parking in Sydney or parking in Melbourne?
These small things can help improve the lives of your team members and encourage them to stick around for the long-haul.
The businesses that make it in the current competitive environment know how to boost their productivity and make the most of their time and resources. As a small business owner, it is important to learn to value your time, prioritise based on the right metrics, and help your staff.
Using their productivity tips, your business or personal projects can succeed and keep on impressing — yourself, your target audience and your industry.
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