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How start-ups can stop wasting time and have the time to drive their business forward

Wednesday, 5 June 2013 | By Rose Powell

Many start-up operators are wasting time they don’t have in administration work and non-core tasks, says Michael Peiniger, founder and director of leadership and teamwork development company Kameleons.


Peiniger spoke to StartupSmart about where start-ups are losing valuable time with inefficient processes and how to start freeing up more time to drive your business forward.


His top five tips were:


1. Use your day-to-day programs more effectively,

2. Prioritise your day into urgent versus important tasks,

3. Develop and follow meeting protocols for all internal meetings,

4. Develop and follow email protocols for all internal email communication, and

5. Use the people in your teams more collaboratively.


Peiniger says start-up owners often haven’t had a moment to review their systems and most will need to start with a simple review of what they’re currently doing.


“Start-up people like to get going and implement straight away, without working out exactly where they are and what they need. Some small business owners don’t have a clear picture on how much time they spend around on each task, both the little things and the core stuff,” says Peiniger.


Make a list of everything you do


He recommends making a list of every single task you do and estimate how much time each task, regardless of size and importance, takes. Identify which tasks only you can do and work out how to do these as efficiently as possible, and see if you can delegate the rest.


“Wasting time on non-core tasks is a huge issue, particularly around emails and telephone calls and using Microsoft Word. Most business owners are only using 40% of the capacity of these tools. And when you’re in a small business you can’t afford to waste your time on non-core tasks,” says Peiniger.


For the more evolving and people-focused tasks such as meetings and staff management, Peiniger advises start-up operators focus on establishing and meeting clear objectives.


Check your gut feel about your communications and marketing processes


“If your gut feel is that emails and meetings are taking too long, you need to take that feeling and assess what you’re really doing,” says Peiniger. “Smaller businesses need to start by asking what do you really, actually want your staff to do.”


This could include protocols around when staff should include the business owner when sending emails, how to greet customers on the phone, when to follow up on questions and even when to get in touch about running late.


Write down everything you can think of that makes you love your staff, and what you get most annoyed about. By identifying the emotional triggers of inefficiency, you’ll have a really clear, behaviour-based list that Peiniger recommends you share directly with your staff.


“It’s about helping your staff understand exactly what you want. Miscommunication and not understanding the intent on what they want is where we waste a lot of time.”


Peiniger has identified meetings as a significant inefficiency for many start-ups.


“If you don’t need to have one, find another way to do it. Make sure everyone attending has a purpose in the meeting. Fix a time and stick to it. If it goes longer, you’ll need to come back later,” says Peiniger.


“This would see a significant reduction in wasted time, and owners will be much clearer on what they want to do and what they want their people to do.”