In a perfect world, everyone would work at maximum efficiency every day, with no red tape to cut through or communication snags stunting progress. Unfortunately, thanks to the human capacity for mistakes as well as the imperfect reality of most business environments, getting bogged down is almost inevitable. And once you are caught in a backlog of accounting errors, distracting websites and slow channels of communication, it can be difficult to pull yourself out.
Furthermore, a lack of planning or minimal business acumen can be devastating, considering that a quarter of all startups fail in the first year.
That's why it's important to stay on top of these issues from day one. By ensuring you have the right tools, software and initiatives in place to battle these issues, you'll be more focused on the most important part of any business: putting out a quality product or service that people want and need. Here are five useful tips to keep your startup thriving.
1) Find the right project management program
Whether you rent office space or your employees telecommute, making sure everyone is on the same page is critical. The right project management program for you and your company depends on your structure. Perhaps you'd prefer a kanban style, where the movement of representational items like sticky notes or washers correspond with a manufacturing process. Or maybe you need something that integrates with email and Google Drive, like the lauded Basecamp from 37signals. As long as your employees can keep track of what needs to be completed and when -- via to-do lists, message boards, time tracking and project overviews -- your workflow will remain streamlined and efficient.
2) Invest in accounting software
Now that accounting doesn't take place on paper ledgers with pencil calculations, it's easier than ever to keep track of your company's expenses and profits. Even the most astute accountants make human errors, so find something that can cover the basics as well as generate sales forecasts, determine overstock, and evaluate your services to see what is contributing the most -- or least -- to your bottom line. Softwares such as Quickbooks are popular with small businesses and major companies alike.
3) Get administrative assistance
While you work on business development and strengthening relationships, you can get virtual assistance with administrative duties, such as managing appointments, customer care, transcriptions, copywriting, billing, and almost any other task that doesn't require a physical presence. Until you can hire someone in-house to take care of your business minutiae, let professionals handle it.
4) Create ways for your employees to connect anytime, anywhere
Everyone knows startup life requires flexibility -- particularly when it comes to work hours. Often, project needs to be completed quickly, requiring team effort. By sharing documents on the cloud -- using, say, Google Drive -- your employees can contribute to a project at any time. Encouraging the use of video calling software such as Skype can also keep employees connected on the go, and enables them to communicate timely news or edits on their way to and from the office, or from home. This will minimize the amount of time spent waiting for a response company-wide, streamlining efficiency and increasing workflow.
5) Find low-cost and easy marketing solutions
If you find that your company's marketing consists of you sending out emails to friends, asking them to check out your new startup, you may be in need of some marketing assistance, which is becoming more attainable and affordable by the day. A variety of options exist, from dedicating someone in-house to working on your social media presence and SEO to contracting a firm that works particularly well in local, national and international markets. Either way, a well-marketed company can expect new business, increased visibility and more engaged employees -- in other words, less distractions and increased productivity.