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How Short-Term Suffering in Startups Leads To Their Long-Term Success

How Short-Term Suffering in Startups Leads To Their Long-Term Success

It would appear that anyone with a laptop and an Internet connection is launching a startup. I am not going to lie to you there is a romance behind building a successful company. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of work that must be done in private before you can celebrate your wins in public.

Not only is the journey ahead of you epic but 90% of startups fail, according to Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg. Why? Because… you waited too long to launch, you hired poorly, or you simply lost focus.

Until recently, I have been a serial failure as an entrepreneur. I lacked the understanding of how the short-term pain bleeds into long-term success. I have discussed these issues with a few entrepreneurs, and I have listed some of the mile markers they encountered on their journey to building a successful company:

1. The product is important to the business, but the company culture is more important.

Mike McDerment, CEO of FreshBooks, explains the company invests a great deal of energy into creating a company culture that is supportive and collaborative.

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It’s in the DNA of FreshBookers to go to great lengths to execute extraordinary experiences every day for our customers and for each other. – Mike McDerment, CEO of FreshBooks,

The single most important commodity for a company is to hire for cultural fit; hiring people who share the company’s core values.

2. You are working hard to succeed, but first you have to fail before you can triumph.

Failure is a valuable tool for the entrepreneur. And without forensic analysis failure is nothing more than… defeat! So you must schedule the time to give serious thought to the question “Why didn’t it work out?” Once you start fleshing out this question higher-order learning and growth begin.

At the end of your analysis you must have clear ideas about why it failed, and what you will do differently next time.

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3. You are solving problems, but you must create better strategies to solve the more difficult issues.

Todd Barrish, President of Indicate Media, practices four problem-solving strategies:

  • Step 1: Thoroughly identify the problem and the cause of the problem.
  • Step 2: Discuss solutions. This includes potentially reframing the conversation.
  • Step 3: Assign responsibility of the solution. Who is going to manage moving things forward?
  • Step 4: Set a measurement of the solution, so you know when and whether the problem was solved.

4. You are taking risks but the risks must be intelligent so that they can feed the innovation.

Todd Barrish, President of Indicate Media explains that innovation is the backbone of any successful startup.

Barrish sites the launch of his company as a prime example of how innovation has allowed Indicate Media to thrive. Todd continues to explain that the secret sauce to building brand credibility and securing new business is centered on his ability to take intelligent risks against established norms.

5. You are focused on your vision, but you are failing to recognize when to adapt to the market.

No marketplace is immune from change, and if your startup is to succeed, then you must change with the market. But it’s not enough to match course with the market – to experience gain you have to stay ahead of the change. This is why it becomes important to understand the difference between what Andy Grove, author of Only The Paranoid Survive, refers to as recognizing the difference between signal and noise.

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6. You are creating products better than your competitor, but you must make the product better for your customer.

You must constantly be engaged in conversations around making better products. And I am not just saying to make the product better than your competitors but it must be better than what you have done before. Sometimes it might be a minor change that could be implemented in a few hours, other times the implementation could take months, even years to fully realize.

7. You are settings goals for your company, but they must be D.U.M.B. goals.

  • Dream-driven: Let’s start with building a big dream, stay away from the safe dream.
  • Uplifting: Your goals should have a prerequisite of being positive. Your goals should inspire you to accomplish them.
  • Method-friendly: You need to build methods of obtaining your goals. Your focus should be on building habits that move you closer to achieving your goals.
  • Behavior-triggered: When you set a goal, you need to create triggers that remind you to keep chasing them.

8. You’re focusing on the work ahead but to succeed you must build the appropriate skills.

At the beginning of most new projects, you will lack key skills that are critical to the success of the project. Understanding this issue is critical and will condition you to focus on those skills.

Once you have identified the skill to master, you must not only create a set of habits, but you must also have a provocative ”why” is the skill important. This strategy will place you in the proper mindset to keep you growing the new skill.

9. You have mentally prepared yourself to deal with the stress of a startup, but you have not changed your mind.

“There is nothing more powerful than a changed mind,” explains motivational speaker Les Brown.

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It’s your disempowering story that you are not good enough that keep you from achieving you true potential. By changing your mindset to believe with certainty in your potential, you give yourself permission to take massive action, which gets you those amazing results, you have been dreaming of.

10. There are times when you’re about to give up, but you have to focus on why this thing is important to you.

To be honest, don’t ever think about giving up. If something doesn’t work out, thinking of a new way to make it work and move on. You must be determined to get through the bad times. If need be, get your team together, outlined the situation, until you come up with a plan to fix it.

11. You do a great deal of talking but for you to understand what is needed you need to shut-up and listen.

Great leaders are great listeners. It’s not your job to dominate the room with your rhetoric. Your job is to listen because the most effective strategy to get people’s attention is for you to give them your attention.

12. You are the boss but to be successful you need to be a leader.

Leaders are not the boss. Leaders develop the gift for getting others to operate at their peak performance. And what might those gifts look like:

  • Listening to your team and addressing suggestions, concerns, and personal issues.
  • Coaching your team to raise their performance to a higher standard.
  • Allowing every team member the opportunity to voice their ideas.

Take the opportunity to listen and you will create an environment where they can unleash their full potential.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash/Volkan Olmez via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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