Productivity is possible with a small team!
Some of the most dynamic teams of all time have been small in size. Just look at the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, or even the Wonder Twins. Against the greatest of odds, these teams still manage to pull together and come out on top.
Unfortunately for you, your small team probably doesn’t have the advantage of possessing superpowers. And odds are even greater that you don’t have the Incredible Hulk backing you up.
Nothing about running a small business with big aspirations is easy. How do you stay sane and productive when your startup team can’t even fill an elevator?
My twin brother and I — a startup team of two — have worked out a system that preserves our sanity while still allowing us to thrive in our small setup.
Here are the six elements that lead to success:
1. Get organized.
When the buck stops with you, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose focus. If I had a dollar for every time a “quick” check of my email resulted in a 40-minute pause, I probably wouldn’t need to run a small business anymore. These types of momentum killers can derail your productivity.
Leo Babauta’s “Zen to Done” emphasizes the fact that jumping from task to task isn’t a productive work strategy. Instead, it’s a massive waste of time. Structure your day to ensure that every task is fully completed before a new one begins. This is key to remaining focused when you’ve got a jam-packed to-do list.
2. Know your role(s).
When you have a lean team, it’s inevitable that everyone will wear multiple hats. You just need to make sure that everyone is wearing the right ones. Don’t try to fit square pegs into round holes.
The members of your team have unique strengths and weaknesses. Encourage them to stick with their strengths and allow others to take over where they’re weak. When your team members have roles that suit their skills and personalities, your business will run like a well-oiled machine.
3. Love and trust your team.
It’s especially important for small teams to get along. I’ve seen startups whose partners spend more time arguing with each other than actually working. Those businesses eventually fall apart.
Mutual trust and respect are essential to your success. Make sure your team is filled with people you’re ready to go to war with.
4. Share a vision.
A united front is one of the greatest assets a small business can have, so only partner with people who are fully committed to your vision for the company.
As I said before, you can’t waste time bickering about big-picture issues when there’s work that needs to be addressed immediately. Make sure you and your partners are truly on the same page and possess mutual ideals.
5. Don’t be afraid to outsource.
The bigger your business gets, the more hands you’ll need on deck. Instead of hiring full-time employees, outsourcing your work can be a great way to free up your time and eliminate the added pressure of managing a larger team. This pay-as-you-go approach is especially useful for young companies with small budgets.
6. Keep your cool.
Running your own business can bring massive amounts of stress. And because you have a small team relying on you, a mental breakdown is simply not in your budget. It’s paramount for you to always keep your cool, even in the most hectic of situations.
Completely removing yourself from the office is sometimes the best way to keep your cool. Whether you take a 60-minute walk or an extended lunch break, you’ll find that keeping your sanity not only preserves your productivity, but it also guarantees your company’s existence.
Running a small startup is a complicated endeavor. But if you manage your time well, pick your partners carefully, and prioritize your mental health, you’ll find that your small size provides big strategic advantages.