No matter what anyone tells you, starting a business is hard work. You have an idea, you have energy and excitement, and everyone is encouraging you. Then you start the business, and you realize there’s a ton of BS that comes along with the dream, and sucks up a ton of your time. As a four time green entrepreneur, I’ve learned some lessons along the way, and want to share them with you.
First, commit to working around the clock for the first few months, dipping your hands into all aspects of your company. Seems counterintuitive for an article about time saving strategies, but in the long run, this is the best strategy. Why? Because in that first few months, you’ll learn the ins and outs of what will eventually become the jobs you will hire out. As you can break your company down to a set of tasks and responsibilities, you’ll cleanly see (after doing them yourself), how some are complimentary and others are not. Group those that are complimentary and put them in a job description, and hire a person well suited to that role. You’re figuring out the process for how things will get done, and you’re making it easy for a worker to come along and just do what needs to be done, rather than figuring things out on their own, which will waste their time, and your time and money.
Once you’ve started chunking off complimentary tasks and creating roles for people, hiring the right person along the way, it’s time to start thinking about your inventory and equipment. At the onset of your business, finding ways to shop for equipment through an e-tailer will help save you time, as with a few clicks, you’ve got all the stuff you need on its way to your door. Shopping at Home Depot or some other big box store for the stuff you need will consume a lot more time and probably result in a fair amount of returns/exchanges, lost time in figuring out new equipment, and the like. Shopping online, you can immediately read other customer reviews and get the products you need, then get on to other parts of your business. For example, check out Quicksales, an online marketplace for anything you might need to start a business. From retail displays to wholesale items, you create an account and click-click, you’re on with the rest of your day. Need to refill? Click-click–and the stuff is coming to you.
Last but not least, get used to project planning. Create some simple gantt charts (you can do this in Powerpoint), which give you a visual display of what needs to get done and when. From this, break each big picture item on the Gantt chart (i.e., develop website) into bite sized chunks (i.e., buy URL, find host, etc.) and post them into a google doc that you share with your business partner or employee (or just for your own reference if you don’t have anyone else at the moment). Set these up like an outline, so that the big picture doesn’t get lost, but also so that the smaller things get assigned to someone and eventually completed.
I hope these three strategies help you succeed in business. If you want to talk strategy for your startup, I’m always available for online consultation, at www.GreenBusinessOwner.com
About the writer: Scott Cooney is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawaii, and author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill). Scott wishes to thank Quicksales, for their support of this post.