Ideas are cheap, as the saying goes. New businesses enter the market every day, offering exciting products or services. Yet, around 50% of new businesses fail within 4 years. One of the major reasons businesses fall apart is disorganization. Going in with a plan can greatly reduce your startup’s chances of becoming just another statistic. Here are a few tips to help you start off on the right foot.
Organize Your Priorities
You can’t succeed until you know what you want to do. A product is never really finished, there are always tweaks to be made and rough edges to polish. Many startups waste effort trying to achieve perfection when attaining a laser focus on a few key goals is what courts success. Sit down and write a list of non-negotiable objectives. If you have a company mission statement, make it concrete. Ambiguous corporate jargon muddies the waters, but a firm objective can provide foundational guidance when it comes time to make tough decisions. Knowing your goals will help you shape the unique processes and methods of your business to facilitate success.
Organize Your People
Eventually, every new business needs new employees. Startups are infamous for being “flexible” and “freeflowing.” In and of itself, giving workers freedom and the ability to interact with different areas of the business isn’t a bad thing, but if that flexibility isn’t clearly planned for it can cause confusion regarding roles, goals, and exacerbate office politics. Clearly defined tasks, positions, and avenues of communication actually increase employee freedom. When everyone is on the same page, people can be creative and experiment with methodology without stepping on others’ toes or neglecting priority tasks.
Also incredibly important in the startup ecosystem is a focus on employee happiness and retention, as startups are all too often synonymous with the “burnout” effects of employees and overworking. Keeping your employees happy doesn’t have to be a difficult task, as anything from an included Citibike membership to some company-themed laptop swag can go a long way to make them feel appreciated. The startup landscape is one rampant with those who are experts at working hard and playing harder, so it’s important to keep your employees focused and on the right track. For those who have already gone too far down the rabbit hole, it’s important to get them the help they need and steer the company back in the right direction. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and that all too evident in a small startup where there’s nowhere to hide.
Organize Your Information
In the early stages, you need to decide what sort data management process you are going to have. Where is your data being stored? Where are the backups being stored? If you are going paperless to improve efficiency, what process are you going to use to digitize paper documents sent to you? Are there any security concerns you need to address regarding storage or which employees can access what information?
You also want to consider documenting your business workflow and organizational structure in a way that is easily accessible to everyone. Writing out a Master Plan can aid in the onboarding of newcomers and also allows you to spot inefficiencies more easily. Failing to do so ultimately means that many procedures and processes only live in the heads of employees as tribal knowledge. If those employees ever move on, and they will, that knowledge is at risk of being lost with them.
Organize Your Tools and Use Tools to Organize
Identify the fundamental tools needed to operate your business and form plans to use them efficiently. Then, attempt to brainstorm what tools can offer supplementary support and optimization of your methods. There exists a cornucopia of productivity and optimization software to aid communication, note-taking, presentations, schedule management, and anything else you can think of. There are even tools specifically catered to specific industries. If you can save effort on mundane tasks that are repeated often, that energy pays dividends and is reinvested in the overall progress of your company.