“Improving efficiency” is a term that we dismiss too easily as a cliche. It’s such an obvious piece of advice that many startup founders forget just how important optimization and automation can be.
Sometimes, it helps to think about improving productivity in terms of the real benefits you’ll enjoy rather than some nebulous goal. With the right productivity mechanisms in place, your startup will be able to focus on activities that often fall by the wayside.
With more time on their hands, your CEO can finally start focusing on negotiating better deals with suppliers and getting personally involved in deals that the sales team is struggling to close. When they spend less time doing manual admin, your sales and technical teams will have more bandwidth to nurture leads and develop awesome product features.
Let’s take a look at five tips that will help the people in your startup use their time more effectively.
1. Embrace Online Meetings
Have you noticed how being forced to have online meetings during the COVID pandemic has freed up some of your time? Why not make this a permanent thing?
With the increased use of online meeting apps like Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Microsoft Teams, many organizations are reclaiming time that’s usually wasted on things like traveling to a remote location and waiting for some latecomer to join because the meeting can’t start without them.
The depressingly analog days of a handful of people sitting around a whiteboard waiting for someone to say something important were already coming to an end over the past decade. Now, as many of our people are confined to their homes, we’re getting a real sense of how much time we used to waste doing things the old way.
People are becoming more and more comfortable with doing business via video conferencing. At the same time, the tools enabling this are becoming increasingly accessible and stable. Embrace this new paradigm and limit in-person meetings to scenarios where an online alternative really can’t be avoided.
2. Get the Most out of Gmail
There are some really great reasons why Gmail is such a dominant mail client. It’s completely cloud-based, it’s integrated with Google Workspace’s impressive selection of tools, and it’s frequently updated to ensure that it remains technologically relevant.
On top of this, Google was smart enough to incentivize innovative software developers to build “add-ons” for one of their flagship products. Integrating Gmail with a smart selection of third-party apps is simple, quick, and offers an amazing array of productivity benefits.
Here are some of my favorites, but feel free to check out a more comprehensive list of time-saving Gmail extensions.
- Right Inbox offers a generous selection of advanced email management features, like scheduled sending, email tracking and analytics, CRM integration, and customizable reminders.
- Google Tasks is an easy-to-use, exceptionally helpful tool that lets you convert your email client into a lightweight to-do list.
- me offers a fast and effective way to manage your newsletter subscriptions. See all your non-essential emails with one click and unsubscribe from them with minimal effort.
3. Ensure Your People Know What’s Expected of Them
One of the quickest productivity wins a company can enjoy is in the workflow and project management space.
If your priorities are to ensure that the various teams in your organization are in sync with each other, it’s essential that projects are broken down into perfectly defined deliverables and allocated to the correct resources. COOs, project managers, and product owners need to take full control of these platforms to ensure that everyone is working on tasks that are aligned with the company’s immediate goals.
Tools like Asana, Monday, Trello, and Airtable all offer their users unique features that make the planning and allocation of work as easy and effective as possible. Using these platforms, project managers can easily navigate their way around unexpected obstacles, unforeseen dependencies, and changes in a project’s scope.
Attempting to manage work with archaic, non-agile methodologies and tools is a fool’s errand. Do your research into which of these tools is most appropriate for your business and implement it as soon as possible.
4. Communicate Complex Messages with Video
Imagine there’s a specific feature on one of your competitors’ websites that you want to discuss with your technical team. You can’t call them over to your desk because they’re scattered across the planet. You also can’t quite find the right words to describe it in a way that everyone will understand.
Or imagine that you’ve found a bug in your sales system – a complex UX issue that only occurs under very specific conditions. The only way to inform your team about this is to spend an hour writing a detailed bug report accompanied by a dozen screenshots, right?
Not if you use Loom.
This innovative, cloud-based video messaging service allows you to easily capture everything happening on your screen while also recording audio with an external mic. This allows you to explain to the audience exactly what it is they’re looking at and why it’s so important.
Videos recorded using Loom are instantly published onto a dedicated hosting platform, and you’re provided with a URL that you can easily share with whoever needs to see them.
5. Design Visuals from Pro-Level Templates
Making awesome, engaging images to go with your company’s social media posts is hard. Designing a beautiful infographic is hard. Coming up with a fantastic layout for a print brochure is hard. Unless you’ve hired a graphic designer – something few young startups can afford to do.
If you’re still in a space where you’re cobbling together substandard graphics for your company’s marketing material, you need to consider using a cloud-based, template-driven graphic design tool like Canva or Crello. There are also plenty of sites to get free photo overlays, which are a great way to quickly enhance any image.
If you’re throwing together a presentation in PowerPoint, it’s generally a good idea to make use of professionally designed templates. The Microsoft tools is still very popular for startups who wish to put together a presentation in a more traditional format and the abundance of free templates makes it easy to see why.
By offering a massive variety of professionally designed templates and a feature-rich customization tool, these amazing platforms empower novice designers to create and publish some legitimately fantastic imagery. All you need is a couple of hours to learn how the design interface works, select a template that’s aligned with your brand, and customize it with your message. These tools are revolutionizing the way marketing teams work and making great design far more accessible.
Some Final Thoughts
Improving your startup’s general productivity isn’t a pipe dream. There are tools out there designed specifically to help companies get the most out of the hours their employees spend at work. Implementing these tools offers startups tangible benefits – benefits that will lead to growth, better relationships with your clients and vendors, and healthier company culture.
Dedicate a couple of hours every week to finding areas in your company where time leaks away. Speak to your staff to find out what they spend too much time on. And then bravely implement solutions!
Don’t let your general busyness stop you from finding ways to get more organized, efficient, and focused.