Running a startup is a difficult endeavor because of the many tasks–developing business ideas, raising capital, hiring employees, launching a website, training employees by providing them with materials, etc.–that need attention all at once. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that each task requires time and money, both of which startups typically lack. However, the following tips will help startups save enough of each to get everything done.
- Process documents electronically. Printing and mailing documents takes time, and, of course, paper and postage cost money. electronic signatures that companies like save on both by preparing and sending documents electronically, including those that require signatures, like contracts. With clients using Echosign provide, startups can finalize deals faster and avoid using expensive paper on those lengthy contracts.
- Purchase supplies in bulk. Whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or a startup, every business needs supplies–paperclips, sticky notes, tape, etc. While it’s easy for a startup to rationalize buying supplies in small amounts because of the low price tag, it will cost more money and time in the long run. First of all, bulk purchases carry a lower price per item, which leads to substantial savings on supplies that are used frequently. Startups then save time with less fewer to the store and less time filling out order forms.
- Start with what’s on hand. If a startup wants to avoid spending time and money outfitting its operations, it should just use what it currently has available. That means using an apartment or spare bedroom instead of renting office space. If an office is necessary, furnish it with spare furniture from home, and use personal electronics like a laptop and smartphone. Time or money doesn’t have to be spent on separate office materials when everything is readily on hand. A startup should focus on making its first sale rather than the interior design of its office; that comes later.
- Limit the forms of communication. A startup might have a small staff. That staff might even consist of one person. It’s easy to overlook or miss correspondence when trying to juggle numerous communication devices, from email to telephone to social media. By directing customers or other businesses to one or two communication platforms, startups avoid wasted time spent checking messages on multiple devices. Startups are more efficient answering all correspondence in a single place and can save money by choosing a smaller number of devices.
- Outsource jobs. When the tasks pile up to unsustainable levels, startups need to hire more help. However, the budget might not have room for a full-time salary, and time for training is limited. By outsourcing some of its tasks to freelancers or other businesses, startups will have projects completed by specialized professionals at a much lower cost than a full-time employee. It’s one less task startup owners have to waste time worrying about. While outsourcing has a bad reputation, it’s definitely something to consider if you’re looking for somebody specialized that you cannot hire full-time for.
- Use transparent software. This seems like a given but some startups don’t do this. Using transparent software like Netsuite for your accounting allows you to see changes made by anybody and prevents mistakes or unauthorized transactions from happening. Using programs like Basecamp for project management allows you to work with others in a collaborative environment and also puts in to place tracking to assure everyone is working on what they need to be.
The thrill of starting a business is easily lost in the maze of errands that need to be accomplished. It is especially hard when a startup has two hands–representing time and money–tied behind its back. However, with a few simple steps, startups will have enough of both to move freely.
In what unique ways does your startup conserve time and money?
Amy Silver has a corporate background and has slowly faded into the entrepreneurship life. You can find her on Twitter, @AmyJSilver