The concept of the scrappy startup fighting to succeed with limited resources has been around since time immemorial. Figuring out how to demonstrate value, attract investment, make smart hiring choices… It’s all part of starting your first business. That said, despite the sheer scope of the internet, it’s currently harder in some key ways for a budding startup to gain any momentum.
Think about how much competition is out there now, with people fired due to COVID-19 taking the opportunity to pursue the entrepreneurial route that previously seemed too risky. You also need to factor in the difficulty of going without conventional networking scenarios: it was previously normal for startups to rent shared office space and have chances to build working relationships with companies in related industries. Right now that isn’t viable, of course.
Due to this, startups founders need to make smart decisions from the outset if their operations are going to survive — and that means making the best possible use of the digital tools at their disposal. Leaning on tools is an excellent way to make lessen the difficulty of running a startup, and the best small businesses are doing just that. Here’s how tools are helping:
They’re broadly enhancing productivity
One of the biggest challenges of the new remote-working standard is ensuring that employees can be as productive (or more productive) than they would be in office space. More startups than not are going to be operating remotely for the foreseeable future, and this makes it tricky to manage workloads and get troublesome obstacles out of the way.
After all, it’s so much easier to get everyone on the same page when you can gather them in a meeting room and spend thirty minutes breaking down all the key projects. You can dole out the right equipment and provide direct oversight to deal with any unanticipated issues that arise.
This is where the best productivity software for small business comes to the rescue by doing everything it can to speed things along. Task management is one of the core areas in which productivity software helps small businesses, as workers left to their own devices need to be constantly reminded of what the expectations are: what their tasks are, and when they need to be completed. Without that information, they can become rudderless.
Another area is task automation, naturally. There are always pieces of work that involve tiresome repetition, and many of them can be handled automatically if you know how to configure a system like Zapier or IFTTT. Deployed smartly, automation systems allow you to speed through tasks, saving time and energy that can go towards more creative actions.
They’re enabling invaluable operational flexibility
Every business needs to change with the times, but it’s particularly true for startups. Lacking no recognisable brands and still being decidedly unsure how they’re going to consistently bring in revenue, they’re not yet solidified businesses, meaning their destinies are uncertain. It’s possible for a promising startup to make a huge mistake and collapse, just as it’s possible for a failing startup to pivot its operation and happen upon something immensely successful
Pivoting, though, requires flexibility — and digital tools allow remarkably flexibility. Think about how it used to be essential for companies to invest heavily in foundational equipment before they could even start their work. A graphic design business would need to buy various high-end machines with top-notch tablets and displays. Today, a similar business could get away with renting some machines and relying on cloud-based software.
The digital tools of the SaaS world decouple company power from hardware to a major extent. What’s more, they don’t require huge long-term investments: it used to be necessary to buy a business copy of Microsoft Office, but today you can simply use free online office suites (such as Google Workspace). So if you decide that you want to completely revamp your business tomorrow, you can simply cancel the tools you no longer need, invest in new ones, and carry on.
They’re providing rich business analytics
How can you improve something when you don’t know it’s faring? And when you’ve attempted to implement an improvement, how can you know it’s actually better? The answer is the broad use of rich digital analytics to track how all your actions are faring, giving you adequate insight into business performance to make suitable adjustments.
Combining the tracking provided by free tools like Google Analytics and the more niche but in-depth tracking of paid tools like Hotjar, it’s possible to seamlessly gather data on everything that goes on in your business. Track the time spent on tasks, track the impact of marketing emails, track company expenditure to see where money is being wasted. It all helps.
Any startup that wants to thrive in today’s business world needs to draw upon all the resources available to it. If you’re not already doing so, now is the time to change that.