Startup Businesses - January 14, 2012
When an eager professional stumbles upon a new idea, product or service he or she wishes to introduce to the public, it's just the beginning of a long process before the concept can become a viable business venture. After securing funding, investing in product development and research, and identifying what niche of a market to target, entrepreneurs must start organizing the operations of a business to ensure optimal returns on investment. Startups have limited access to capital, even after investors have been convinced of the business' value. Every resource selected to build the foundation of the company must be used to its full potential, as any waste produced results in lost assets with a limited budget.
Placing high standards on the performance of resources and employees leaves little room for error. Entrepreneurs must take the time to create an organizational strategy and flow chart that outlines how the division of labor and assets will be determined to ensure all tasks are completed and obligations are met. There is a delicate balance that must be realized by entrepreneurs when squeezing every last drop out of workers and infrastructure before something snaps and productivity plummets. Careful consideration, controlled tests and continuously monitoring performance and output will help entrepreneurs understand how best to achieve operational efficiency, without driving up costs or depleting resources.
If an entrepreneur does not take the time to determine how human capital and physical assets will be allocated and leveraged within the company, he or she runs the risk of overworking certain components of the business or underutilizing important tools that can enable growth and expansion. Many startups struggle to find this balance in workflow strategies, resulting in costly inefficiencies that can drain a business within its first few months.
To avoid becoming yet another statistic, entrepreneurs should acknowledge the importance of multitasking, while countering these expectations with doses of reality. An overworked employee wearing too many hats will likely make more errors than one with a reasonable amount of responsibility. Stretching resources to maximum capacity will save money initially, but can lead to costly repairs or replacements faster than well-maintained tools. Overemphasis on cost reductions and extreme productivity can have an undesirable impact on startup success and sustainability, underscoring the importance of balanced workflow strategies.
When an entrepreneur tries to reach goals too quickly, important steps are missed that can result in 20 percent to 50 percent drop-offs in overall performance and productivity. While small businesses and starts are looking to every possible resource to boost output and growth, watch out for avoidable mistakes that diminish these results. Common errors made in a startup's division of resources include not having enough available assets and materials, failing to prioritize projects and not planning enough before taking action.
Many employees in a startup were hired because they can handle more than one task or responsibility to help get a young business off the ground. However, when employees do not have access to resources to fulfill project responsibilities, their talents are wasted and productivity falters. There should be continual checks on necessary inventory and business tools to maintain operations and ensure resources are not depleted and staff is well supported.
With regard to the launch and completion of projects, most startups have a laundry list of ideas and plans in the works at any given time. Entrepreneurs have the responsibility of listing all the tasks and projects that must be accomplished, as well as prioritizing them based on the immediate needs of the company. In the initial phases of launching a business, entrepreneurs may feel as if every project and task is of the utmost importance. A sense of prioritization and organizational flow, however, is key to guiding staff on how best to conduct operations without becoming overwhelmed or jumbled. Taking on too many projects at once will leave each activity unfinished, and increases the potential of errors to be made when duties start to blur together.
Entrepreneurs should acknowledge that projects can be completed faster and more efficiently when they are taken on one at a time or in small groupings, rather than all at once. Starting too many projects at once can lead to compounding complications and costly errors that eat up time and resources later in the schedule. Likewise, starting certain projects too early, before other ones with greater priority have been completed, may force staff to embark on a new duty without proper preparation. This will increase the potential for errors, staff frustrations and lower productivity levels, sending a ripple effect throughout the tight-knit business.
When an entrepreneur faces common problems as a result of multitasking errors, adjustments in workflow responsibility and allocation can clear up road blocks. If limited employees are stretched too thin and are struggling to deliver peak performance on all projects to meet deadlines, entrepreneurs should take time for adequate preparation. Rather than expecting staff to come up with tools and strategies on their own time, owners should create planning sessions to set priorities and determine resource needs before each project execution to ensure it will be completed in a cost and time-efficient manner.
After a startup has taken on several clients and must start filling requests, certain project deadlines may not be met if organizational efficiency is awry. When staff becomes overworked and resources are running scarce, entrepreneurs must be able to see the startup is pushed beyond capacity and step in. When deadlines are being missed and there is a threat of even more backup in the future, business owners must make an executive decision to reduce the number of projects being taken on at one time by at least 25 percent. This will free up manpower and resources to tackle the current workload efficiently and develop a routine to prevent missed deadlines in the future.
Furthermore, startup companies tend to rely on each employee for an array of responsibilities and obligations. In large companies, each department can hire staff to best fill specific needs and tasks. With less access to capital and resources, startups must call on each staff member to work on many aspects of the business at one time to keep operations running smoothly. When an entrepreneur notices certain employees are not meeting certain expectations and are falling behind on projects and deadlines, certain rules must be set in place. Entrepreneurs cannot take time away from their schedule to track down employees when they miss checkpoints or complete tasks on time. To keep workers on schedule, owners must establish policies that lay out a priorities checklist for each project. Adhering to the list will help employees stay on pace, which will save time and money in the long term, while reducing stress and unnecessary disciplinary measures. Organizational workflow strategies aim to boost productivity and output without straining resources early in the project's conception.