Launching a startup tends to be an overwhelming experience. Startup owners are flooded with a multitude of decisions on which their startup’s faith rests.
During this phase, time management is crucial. From the seemingly trivial to those with long-lasting effects, every choice made during this critical time in a business’ lifecycle can mean the difference between success and failure.
According to some of the latest statistics, IT startups, in particular, have the least likelihood of success. The infographic from Failory indicates 63 percent of information-technology startups will likely fail.
The #1 cause seems to be leadership incompetence and a lack of experience, especially management.
Time management is also one of the most difficult and important skills for startup entrepreneurs and managers.
This article examines four tactics to streamline your startup’s time-management process and increase your startup’s probability of survival.
In short, these are the four methods your startup can use to manage your time better:
- Creating a first-year, timetable master plan
- Tracking time
- Making sure the team communicates efficiently
- Focusing on single-tasking rather than multitasking
Exploring each of these points will reveal more details.
Creating a first-year timetable master plan
Startups are typically a chaotic environment from day one. Yes, your business may be small and flexible, and you could accomplish all your various goals and tasks ad hoc, but that is not the reality.
Enthusiasm, flexibility, and improvisation are not enough to run or sustain your startup or any business. Thinking otherwise is likely to add your IT startup to the 63% that fail.
You need a timetable plan that will serve as the primary structure for the future. You must carefully design the steps of your plan to ensure your startup survives its first year.
A good strategy is to start from the final goal and plan the steps backwards. Picture where you want your business to be at the end of year one, and establish the steps that will ensure your vision becomes reality.
You can define the steps as follows:
- Product launch
- Marketing campaign
- Branding strategy
- Product development
- Funding campaigns
If you find you’ll need additional steps for your plan, then be sure to add them as well.
Track time spent on every activity
Of course, a good plan is only truly useful if you actually follow it. Separate the main goals into specific steps and smaller tasks. After delegating the tasks to your team members, make sure everyone is tracking the time needed to complete each task. You can then see if the achieved progress is in line with your predefined timetable, and whether you’re able to tweak quickly and fine-tune your business processes.
Time-tracking is also important, because startups are usually a group of people who haven’t previously worked together, or of young professionals with a lack of business experience.
Tracking time with a time card calculator, or similar software, provides owners and managers with precise insights of the time-and-money resources spent at any given point of the startup’s lifecycle. It is also convenient for calculating wages – which is often not initially clear for many startups.
Streamline team communications
If your startup is a small number of employees, then there is likely to be considerable communications, and that information flow occurs very quick, but your team may not be communicating efficiently.
For efficient team communications, you must do the following:
- Actively listen to your co-workers and customers – Your return message will be adequate and you won’t waste time on additional clarification or sending the wrong feedback.
- Don’t waste time on meetings that are not important – Schedule meetings only when your email, or other means of communications, are not adequate.
- Use emails or instant messages rather than human interaction for more important items – You’ll have written proof and important information won’t be forgotten or overlooked.
- Avoid unnecessary repetition – If you have communicated a message in person and sent an email, then must you also send an instant message?
Perform single-tasking rather than multitasking
In reality, multitasking simply doesn’t exist. You can’t actually perform two task or actions at once. You can only switch from one task to another, only returning to the first when you have time.
An effective and time-savvy IT startup team knows that focusing on only one task at a time is more time-efficient than multitasking.
Checking off completed goals from the main plan in sequence generates morale and momentum – but these can be quickly derailed if you tackle too many tasks at once. You don’t want to waste too much time switching from task to task, without fully completing any of them. Agile methodology, at first glance, may seem like multitasking, but actually, agile allows a team to work on a specific segment at the same time, instead of jumping from task to task at random.
Startups just can’t afford losing time to fix mistakes that occur when their teams are not fully focused or overwhelmed with multiple tasks at the same time.
It is already difficult enough for startups without making time an enemy or obstacle to success. The path to a startup’s success leads through well-organized teams, thoroughly planned projects and strictly followed timetables.
Time, in addition to money, is a startup’s most scarce resource. Additional funding can always be found, but time cannot be reclaimed, so time management is a critical skill if you want to survive in today’s competitive market.