One problem with running a startup is that you’re doing lots of things yourself and time is at a premium. When you’re more focused on administrative tasks than the actual function of your business, it sometimes feels like things are slipping away from you. They don’t have to.
There are a few ways to get some of the everyday operations out of the way while still managing the most important and exciting aspects of your startup. The benefits of doing so are many and include extra time, reliability, and professionalism.
It’s important not to feel like you must be a one-man army. Getting overwhelmed is easy and nothing makes it happen more quickly than being unwilling to find a way to delegate some of the mundane tasks of running the business.
There are a few ways to do this, but the most important are:
Each has different benefits. Software is often cheaper and less hassle than working with people – especially if you’re looking to automate processes and save time. Outsourcing is great if you need people but don’t want to deal with pay, benefits and human resources.
If your startup is ready to take on new talent, it might be worth the time and money to find a few stellar employees to manage your tasks.
Whichever you choose depends on the kind of work you need done, of course. Start by making a lists of the tasks you enjoy least and see which you could trust to other people. From there, start figuring out whether software or outsourcing is a more cost-effective solution. If they aren’t, then it might be time to start taking on help.
Remember: sometimes your time is more valuable when you can put it to more targeted uses.
It’s essential that you’re reliable and automating some of your processes can help deliver that. Like Caron Beesley says, “The foundation of brand loyalty lies in great service.” When you’re less focused on things that don’t need to be hands-on, you can focus more on the customers and groups you’re working with. The more reliable you are, the better.
When you’re doing 50 things every day, sometimes you drop the ball – it’s just human. We can only do so many tasks during our waking hours. Once things start falling, you can give off the impression of being unreliable.
A customer or potential partner won’t notice the never-ending task list or all the accomplishments you’ve made today. They’ll only notice that you’re late or brought the wrong items with you.
Getting extra help can help you be more reliable by narrowing your focus. When you don’t have to do things like accounting, scheduling, and broad-based outreach, you can choose the things that most require your personal touch and expertise. This will go a long way toward presenting a more reliable front to the people you want to work with.
Sometimes you can get a more professional look by using a service that is focused on that one aspect of your business. Whether it’s creating bills, sending out your mailing list, or organizing your receipts, an established process might just look better.
Taking hours to create a mailing list that’s attractive and functional isn’t always necessary when you can just find the right software and have something thrown together in a few clicks.
Another aspect of professionalism is how you present yourself. An extra half an hour before a meeting to groom your hair, straighten your clothes, go over your notes, and have a glass of water can lead to a calmer, more practiced performance. This improves the impression people have of you.
Your work matters most, of course, but people do make judgments based on appearances — both how you appear physically and how you behave. If you manage your time better by delegating and cutting out unnecessary functions like paperwork, you can make a better impression on everyone you meet.
On their blog, Invoice Home writes, “When you are an entrepreneur, you learn that you hardly ever get a day off from your business.” You live, eat, and sleep your startup, especially when it’s just getting off the ground.
Automating processes can be a huge time saver that lets you take a break, grab a cup of coffee, or go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Some pieces of software also have mobile apps or other accessible options so that it’s easier to do things when you’re away from your desk.
One thing that can help you figure out where you need to add or remove time is task tracking. There are a variety of ways to go about it, but essentially you catalogue your time to see where each hour is spent.
Programs exist that can do it on the computer. You can use a mobile app. You can chart your own time in a notebook. Whatever you choose, getting a handle on how you’re spending time now can massively improve your productivity and actually allow you to end up with more time – while more work is still getting done.
However you decide to go about it, evaluate the tasks you have to do and decide whether it’s important that you yourself complete them. If there are ones you can trust to software or other people, consider letting go of some of the load. You might be surprised at just how much it benefits your personal success and that of your startup.
Startup Grind is a Silicon Valley-based organization that educates and mentors entrepreneurs through monthly business events and speaking series in cities across the globe