Life of a start-up founder / CEO is definitely not easy - this everyone knows. But do you also know that it does not need to be so hard. All you need to do is plan, manage and communicate better. Over my entrepreneurial stint of over 7.5 years, here are the 5 most important hacks / tools I have learnt to use to manage my time and effort in a much better manner.
One of the biggest failure of early stage startup CEOs is the tendency to be doing, knowing and taking care of everything. STOP. You will never grow a company this way. It too me ages to really learn this as well but I have learnt my lesson. And, I work everyday towards making myself a little more redundant so that the startup does not always need me all the time. It also allows for a lot of process based work that saves time, effort and money for the startup. Try it!
Who wants to do the boring work? I know the first word that would come to your mind is nobody and that is very true. But, you know what? Startup founders have to do a lot of really boring (can be administrative, financial, product review, documentation, documentation review, etc.) work on a daily basis. But, I have found over time that doing the most boring work first every day without procrastinating makes the day way more productive as well as the gets the boring work done.
Managing tasks and communications are a huge chunk of time of any startup founder's day. Luckily, in the world we live in, there are a lot of amazing tools that can help you manage tasks and communications way better than the ways it was done in the past. However, most startups with small teams (upto 20 folks) are huddled together. This means that a lot of founders are always talking in person - delegating tasks and communicating their thoughts. There is a couple of massive downsides of doing this - one, as your team grows, you are forced to use these tools but they have not become a part of your startup's DNA and it becomes much, much harder to implement, and two, you have got a bunch of people in your team who themselves have never adopted using tools and many tasks that are verbally set are lost in the chaos of verbal communications. So, save yourself from this! I use Asana + Slack. You can use any other that might feel more comfortable for you.
This no is for everything that might end up making you spend time less efficiently than you like. As a startup founder, you always have a heap load of work to do. Hanging out with friends or getting a coffee for a casual chat or going to a party or attending startup events or meetings could be things you end up saying yes to out of courtesy despite knowing well within you that some of it would be a sheer waste of your time. Instead of trying to look polite, think how to maximise your efficiency - learn to say no.
If you have understood the first point and have executed on it, you will know what this one means. Founders don't need to micromanage daily operations. Time is the only constant commodity for everyone. Effort and money can vary for each one of us. Even Elon Musk has 24 hours a day. So, use your time wisely. Any entrepreneur who grew their company will tell you that most of their time was spend on planning ahead. You as an entrepreneur must do this because you are the guiding force for the organization and your team. Entrepreneurs who don't spend a bulk of their time planning ahead are never able to build the right growth foundation for their startups.
These 5 hacks have been my friends for over 5 years now and have been extremely helpful throughout this time. Let me know your thoughts on these hacks. What other hacks do you use?
Have a great week ahead, folks! Ciao...