Why do startups fail? It’s a loaded question for entrepreneurs like me, who have poured their heart, soul, and countless hours into building their big ideas. There can be many reasons why a startup idea fails. While we may pretend that it’s bad luck, the harsh truth is that we likely misdirected our energy on something. Perhaps we pitched to the wrong investor, maybe didn’t have enough funds or perhaps built the wrong team altogether.
Unfortunately, a lot of people, especially entrepreneurs who are wearing multiple hats, struggle to balance the domains of productivity. Focusing energy onto a single point is hard but is worth every second spent. Inability to manage this is a major factor which contributes to a company’s failure
Having too Broad Tasks, or, Assigning Multiple People to a Single One
When you’re assigning tasks to your team or any member. It is very important to break down the work in a way that lends itself to increasing productivity. For example, if you assign a task called “copywriting” to Raj, Sanjay, and Sameer. How will they know when to check it off or mark it as appropriate? When the final copy is finished by all three people? What if the copy requires revisions over it? What if Raj calls out sick and Sameer needs to pick up the slack from the bottom? This rings a bell, I guess.
Follow these rules of thumb for task assignment and naming. These would help you gain an edge over your process:
- Make the task description actionable and specific. For e.g. “Write copy for the company’s brochure,” rather than simply putting the term “Copywriting”.
- Create a task for each stage of the process. For e.g. “Write copy for the brochure” — “Send for final approval” — “Revise (if necessary)” — “Finalize”.
- Assign your task with a reasonable deadline. If there are benchmarks you want to hit, for e.g. first draft by Monday, final draft by Friday, schedule the tasks accordingly for the same.
There are many helpful types of project management systems you may employ for your company. A few to name:
- Lean project management: This system is based upon the removal of waste from the work cycle, such as unnecessary meetings or not-so-important resources.
- Agile project management: This system involves feedback between your customer and your team. It includes the subsystems Kanban, which organizes tasks by status, and Scrum, which is a methodology for assigning tasks and getting them done on a priority basis.
- Waterfall project management: This system is a linear, sequential approach towards accomplishing projects and organizes the workflow as per the order.
If you’re using agile project management methodology. You can simply assign tasks in your daily scrum. If you’re using lean management methodology, you might eliminate unnecessary tasks (for e.g., does every member of the team need to review the final copy or will one person would be enough?). If you’re using waterfall management methodology, you’ll need to identify a dependent task upon each prior task along the cycle.
Spending Time on Fighting with Your Project Management Software
Different apps can be used with different systems, although some lend themselves more to one in particular. For example, Trello is one of the popular app used by professionals for its Kanban approach.
The key is to abandon the use of an app that doesn’t match your project workflow rather than continuing to struggle with it. Find the one that works well for you & your team. Your project management program should enable the intuitive categorizing of tasks in order to treat respective priorities. Sometimes, a simple task-oriented app such as Brief is best because it can be used with whichever project management system you’d like to choose.
Spending A Lot of Time Over Answering Emails
Email is as old as the Internet itself. But unlike the Internet, it hasn’t evolved into much better form. It does require a lot of time to process and manage your email account, and once you start sharing project files through email, it becomes a nightmare to organize them for easy access. The best productivity apps have chat built right into the system so you don’t even have to leave the program to get the answers you need, share files in a snap with your colleagues, or make sure everyone is on the same page in the team.
If email is still required for your job, look into developing some “canned responses.” Many email apps will even let you automate replies so that you can maintain professional, consistent communication with your customers without requiring you to spend a lot of time typing out the same response again and again. And whenever possible, delegate your email to someone who can answer it more quickly and effectively.
Spending a lot of time organizing files to support your projects
So you spent a lot on your project management system, but you still have to figure out where all the project files are. Do you find yourself having to integrate Dropbox or Google Drive? Making a spreadsheet to list locations of files? What a mess. Ideally, your productivity app allows native file sharing and storage so that you can have all the necessary files right at hand.
Streamlining your productivity cycle doesn’t have to require a lot of extra work that keeps you from getting things done, and there’s no need to waste money on a productivity system that overcomplicates things, just like there’s no need to spend time and energy on frills rather than function.
When in doubt, return to the core of the productivity cycle: the task. What best empowers you and your team to get your tasks done & delivered? Choose a simple system that empowers you to be your most productive while being on the same page. Trust me — you’ll get much more done, and your metaphorical tent is less likely to blow away if you simply stick to the process.