We're lucky enough to live in a time with endless amounts of tools at our fingertips - all specifically designed to set businesses up for success.
As tough and stressful as the startup stage can be, rapid growth is a whole different level of chaos. For younger entrepreneurs, there will almost always be a number of growing pains present during this time. In terms of communication or overall organization, many companies these days are investing in apps to ensure their time is put to good use. Let's talk about four tools for startups that are doing great things for businesses of all industries.
Every business owner wants each minute to go to good use. But, in the turbulent nature of the rapid growth stage, it can often times seem like workers are being pulled in too many directions at once. Generally speaking, when you try to do everything, you accomplish nothing. Before you know it, an entire day has passed and seems like nothing got done.
It's inevitable that a business will discover certain roadblocks and bottlenecks during rapid growth. Each of these hiccups will result in lost time. When things start to get frantic, it's recommended to schedule time blocks to work on certain tasks exclusively. For instance, I have found it beneficial to divide my days into 25 minute periods. I take the first block or two of the day to focus solely on emails. Then, while I'm at peak productivity level, I use those blocks for my most important daily responsibilities.
The trick is figuring out exactly what an average day is like and how tasks should be divided. This is what makes Rescue Time such a valuable app.
Over the course of a day, this program will track everything you do on a detailed report so you can see where the bulk of your time is spent. While this app primarily tracks your online activity, there is also a function where you can log occurrences like meetings, calls, commute, and breaks.
With these insights, you can learn how your time blocks should be set up and eliminate causes of distraction along the way. In terms of establishing your ideal schedule, you can set reminders of when it's time to transition to the next task.
This tool is absolutely essential for businesses in the rapid growth stage as workers can learn how to put every minute to efficient use early on.
Almost every business owner will tell you that internal communication is one of the most important ingredients to an efficient company. Employees are often times flooded with more emails than they can handle. While email is necessary for external correspondence, it is not the most optimal tool to use between employees. Free flow of communication is essential for startups and emails can ruin it all. If your inbox doesn't break, your patience will. Investing in a tool specifically for this purpose is a wise move during rapid growth as your staff begins to grow. Enter HipChat.
This collaboration tool is beyond user-friendly and offers a full-featured one-to-one instant messaging system as well as group chat. For team communications, an efficient tool like HipChat allows you to "chat" with your team and give email a break.
Thanks to audio and video chat, as well as screen-sharing options available within HipChat, there's really no need to trot all the way to a team member's cubicle - unless you really want to.
As more and more companies are letting employees work remotely, nailing down a fool-proof communication system is a requirement. Messaging apps are a life saver for quick interactions with coworkers. Don't waste any more time in transitioning internal correspondence to an instant messaging service.
Rapid growth is going to be a time in which task requirements are kicked into high gear. The "sink or swim" mentality will be more prevalent than ever.
There is an uncanny amount of business failures that can be traced back to poor project management. In fact, a recent study by PMI found that for every $1 billion invested in the United States, $122 million is wasted due to poor project performance.
To avoid contributing to this intimidating statistic, companies MUST invest in a good resource early in the game. This way, once the chaos of rapid growth ensues, you are equipped with a good system to manage tasks accordingly.
Workzone is a tried-and-true project management software that goes beyond the simplistic features of Basecamp and Trello, but is not as complicated or "enterprise-heavy" as Microsoft Project or JIRA. Big names like Adidas, Bose, and Wells Fargo use Workzone for everyday operations as well as managing campaigns.
From the centralized dashboard, you will have a full view of every project in the works supplemented with progress reports throughout.
Regardless of whether you have a small handful of people on your team or a running a huge enterprise, Workzone is designed to handle projects of all shapes and sizes. The sooner you get on board with a good resource, the better off you will be to build an airtight organization in which nothing slips through the cracks - an issue that is all too common during rapid growth.
As your business grows, the importance of producing high-quality content will continue to assume a prominent role in your marketing mix. Promoting your messaging across all relevant channels is a requirement these days - especially social media. While it may be easy to keep tabs on branded content in the early stages, it will become much harder as your audience starts to grow.
The harsh truth is this task takes up a lot of time if you are not equipped with the proper tools. As a result, a lot of business owners don't see it as an effective use of time and resources.
In terms of content marketing, Buzzsumo is a resource built for inspiring content that gains traction. This tool enables you to quickly scour the web to track your brand mentions, influencers, competitors, or content pieces across entire industries. These insights are vital for learning what topics are trending in your field and how you can position your material to gain widespread attention.
Buzzsumo is an extremely popular platform with present-day digital marketers, and is used by the likes of Expedia, Capital One, IBM, and more.
According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional methods and can generate three times as many leads. Growing businesses are wise to hop on the bandwagon and follow the famous Bill Gates quote "Content is King."
Rapid growth is one of the most exciting times in the life of an entrepreneur. While everyone involved is likely thinking big and has incredible visions for the future of the company, it's important to stay focused on the day-to-day aspects of the operation. Remember, business success starts on the inside and works its way out. Owners 20-30 years ago could only dream about the tools we have at our disposal today. Use these four to get started on crafting a strategy that will navigate you through rapid growth and into the promised land.
GetApp's directory of business software can help you find the right tools for startups. Check out the following links to see lists of software specifically designed for smaller businesses.
Pratik Dholakiya is the founder of Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, content marketing, and entrepreneurship. Pratik has spoken at the 80th Annual Conference of the Florida Public Relations Association, Accounting and Finance Show, Singapore, NextBigWhat’s UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, SEMrush Meetup, MICA, IIT-Roorkee, and other major events. As a passionate SEO and content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications such as Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory, and Inc42, to name a few. He can found at Twitter @DholakiyaPratik.