For many founders of startups, it’s not their first rodeo! It’s likely that they’ve worked in a senior VP position in a few startups before now. Some succeeded while others flamed out gloriously! Other founders have started multiple small companies over the years but know they have often been haphazard affairs lacking both good organization or efficiency.
To create a sweet startup that offers greater potential for the future, it’s necessary to become more efficient to prosper. Here are 8 strategies to do exactly that.
Stop Overpaying for Software
There’s a mistaken belief that when it comes to software, it’s not up to negotiation. However, that’s just not true…. It’s only that the vendors want you to believe that.
Fortunately, while your brand may be smaller and carries less weight, as a software reseller, Vendr is perfectly positioned to offer SaaS and other software at a discount to the public pricing models. They have arrangements in their role of procurement or as a reseller to offer software across many industries at a lower price.
So, what are you waiting for? Stop overpaying for software by letting them get you sorted.
Use Existing Solutions, Instead of Reinventing the Wheel
For ingenious programmers and other creatives, they rarely meet a problem that they don’t want to dig in and solve themselves. After all, that’s part of the reason why they work in the field and do what they do.
The only problem with the idea of trying to do everything in-house is that it’s slower, adds to costs, and risks reinventing the wheel. And if they have already discounted an existing solution as ‘imperfect’, it likely can do what’s needed in short order.
Beware of members of the team looking for ways to prove their abilities. While that’s admirable in one way, it risks overlooking existing efficient solutions.
Fully Embrace Automation
Employees have historically been reluctant to use any tools that reduce the dependence on their services. They fear that everyone will eventually be replaced by a combination of computer code and robotics. While some industries are seeing developments that make that a little bit true, it’s rarely the case across the broad spectrum of businesses.
Begin to use automation to allow employees to skip mundane tasks and move onto the more interesting, creative (or just non-repetitive) ones.
For example, the IFTTT and Zapier specialize in generating triggers that when activated, will take an approved action. A new article published on the company’s blog could be automatically tweeted or shared on Facebook on the company’s page. Once certain tasks are completed, a notification can be automatically sent to a manager who can then take the next step.
Using automated tools avoids wasting time on needless tasks to verify what has been done or proceed from there. It can enhance operational effectiveness without a subsequent increase in expended effort.
Use Task Completion Services
While employees provide a broader service to companies, there’s a place for smaller and one-off tasks to be assigned to a freelancer. Doing so avoids needing to retain an existing employee or to hire in a temporary worker for several weeks and pay for agencies costs too.
Many platforms now support task-based hiring to knock out individual or batched tasks in no time at all. The advantages include that the person is already up to speed on that task type, has the tools needed to complete it, and costs less than the equivalent in-house solution.
Sites like UpWork, Freelancer.com, Fiverr, and Craigslist are all good places to start.
Compete or Collaborate with Others?
For market ideas, it’s sometimes preferable to collaborate with another company instead of setting out to compete with them.
Collaboration with a Partner?
The relationship in a business collaboration isn’t always a smooth ride. Each partner will have different ideas on how the relationship should work, who retains the intellectual property, and more. The larger competitor will feel that they hold all the cards and the majority of the bargaining power along with it. Therefore, they’re likely to prefer an unbalanced share of the potential profits regardless of who puts the money up.
Going All Out to Compete?
Deciding to compete with all the others in an existing market is an uphill struggle for startups. It’s even worse if you’re tried to negotiate a deal with a larger operator in the same industry, terms weren’t agreed, or worse, there was a quick falling out. At that point, they’re officially the enemy and they know that you’re coming to try to eat their lunch.
A surprise attack with a new product launch or a service that beats a march on theirs is no longer possible. So, it’s even harder to compete unless offering something unique.
Streamline Marketing Efforts
While the initial marketing approach may have been to “go big or go home,” there reaches a stage where a more refined method is required.
Use existing statistics on current and past marketing campaigns to examine what has worked, why it worked, and whether the causes are still likely to be repeated in the future too. Also, look carefully at each type of marketing used to see what has been the most and least effective.
Consider stepping away from the marketing channels that are draining productive time yet aren’t delivering much bang for the buck. Double-down on the most productive marketing channels where the customer acquisition costs make it the most worthwhile.
Monitor Employee Performance More Closely
Many companies only run a performance review every year or so. Mostly, it’s a tick-the-boxes type of deal and all parties involved know what to expect.
It’s necessary to up the game of each employee by putting them on notice that performance will be reviewed more regularly and discussed in greater depth too. Doing so will help to highlight when employees aren’t receiving the support they require, aren’t able to grow within their role, or are ripe for promotion.
Spotting the people that, with the right encouragement, can go far, provides greater opportunities to expand within. It’s less costly than headhunting star performers from other companies, and it will increase staff morale too.
Use Improved Project and Task Management Tools
While employees can use a task list to manage their work, it doesn’t make it easy to see what everyone is working on, or how long it’ll require for completion. It also does little to encourage collaboration within teams.
Using group project management tools like Asana or Trello, employees can stay more organized. Tasks within projects can be assigned to key players, planned for the time necessary for completion, and match with who needs to work on them.
Tracking many tasks across multiple active projects becomes far more viable as the business grows using these tools. Using To-Do lists becomes impractical by that stage.
Adapt the Strategy to the Unique Needs of the Startup
Strategies to make a startup more efficient are sometimes dependent on the industry it’s in, whether it’s being disruptive in its offering, and how unique it is.
It’s necessary to be adaptable to requirements based on the needs of the startup. Sometimes, standard solutions won’t cut it and custom or ad hoc ones should be developed to get exactly what’s required. If that’s the case, don’t waste time-fighting it. Develop what’s required to help staff work more competently.
In conclusion, by focusing on efficiency, advances can be made across the board.