Entering the startup world without any experience is a daunting task. Without the experience of working at another startup or tech firm, you’re thrown into an unfamiliar high-stakes environment with a substantial learning curve.
First-time founders face a huge knowledge gap and consequently waste a lot of time in the beginning, time that can cost them dearly when it comes to building a successful business. Staying organized and using your time as effectively as possible is important as you try to spend as little money as possible and focus on getting your business to your target audience and (hopefully) turning a profit.
Here are seven tips you can use to help close the knowledge gap and get to where you want to go faster.
1. Figure out your organizational system.
No matter how big your team is, you have to find a way to organize that works for everyone. Make sure you have a place to store all of the information your team needs to get things done, including content calendars, product ideas and launches, and an ongoing list of big ideas. This way, everyone is included and no one can claim they’re not in the loop. Online platforms work great for this because everyone can access them, and it’s easy to build and expand with your business.
2. Prioritize HR – including payroll.
Knowing that your HR and payroll are running smoothly brings a lot of peace of mind because it’s one less thing to worry about. Bringing on new people and meeting weekly or monthly payroll is simple when you use the right platform, but it’s a nightmare when you don’t invest any time into getting it up and running.
3. Don’t let finances get away from you.
Start tracking your spending from day one. It’s easy to get caught up in everything when you’re just getting started, but establishing good habits early on is extremely important. It’s the only way to know how much money you have, when it will run out, how much you’re spending every month, and whether you’re performing where you hoped you’d be.
When you know where your money is going, you’re better informed. It’s easier to make decisions about bringing new people onto the team, increasing your marketing budget, or making changes in your business model.
4. Establish an online presence.
Most people understand the importance of having an online presence when running a business, but you should work on this even in the very early stages. Having a polished online presence that accurately portrays your branding gives potential investors and future customers a way to verify your legitimacy and understand your vision. There are plenty of tools out there to help you build a beautiful SEO-optimized website for your business to get things going.
5. Focus on managing your time.
Founders spend all their time fighting to get their businesses going, but it’s essential to stay on top of your schedule. Block out time every week to work on the things you have to get done and commit to it. Then, book meetings and work other responsibilities around the things you absolutely have to get done. In the beginning, it’s so easy to be at the whim of others, willing to drop everything to take a meeting or a phone call. But by managing your time better, say, by scheduling all of your meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays and leaving Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for other work, you can set good habits right at the beginning.
6. Learn from those who came before you.
You may be starting your own business from scratch, but you’re not the first to do so. Thousands of founders have come before you, and many of them have shared their experiences. There are so many resources available online, from general advice to templates for job descriptions, interview questions, and more. Learn what you can where you can and integrate it into your own startup.
7. Commit to confidentiality.
If you’re starting a business, you probably have some new products or ideas that no one has thought of before. Keep your proprietary information confidential and only allow limited access. Don’t trust everyone with sensitive materials. Make sure you know who is accessing what and when they’re accessing it. If there is a particular piece of information that people spend a lot of time looking at, make sure that they’re not sharing anything without your consent. When someone looks at something for an unusually long time, it can also mean that something is really resonating or confusing. Check in and address these issues before they become problems.
Remember, as a founder, your most important resource is time. These tips can help you bridge the knowledge gap and save you a lot of wasted time in the beginning stages of starting your business.