After the holiday season it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. The New Year often starts with a burst of activity and the best of intentions, but it quickly devolves into an overwhelming list of things to do and get done.
Instead of piling more stuff onto your already-overloaded shoulders, we decided to help you lighten the load instead. Here are our top 6 "anti-resolutions" to help startup founders take on the New Year like a boss!
DO NOT check email first thing in the morning.
Waking up with your smartphone on your pillow and jumping straight into your inbox is a common tendency among startup founders. However, when you are trying to be productive, the quiet time in the early morning before you have any distractions can be a golden hour to create some of your best work. Many experts believe that creativity peaks shortly after waking; thus, before clicking the Mail icon on your phone or laptop, spend 30-45 minutes on an important task that requires your complete focus. You'll be amazed how much you can get done, and how solutions to important, complex tasks will flow easier.
DO NOT schedule meetings unless it’s absolutely necessary.
At least half of all scheduled meetings are a waste of time and eat into valuable time you could be using to complete other tasks. Further, the time spent coordinating schedules adds to the productivity loss. For every issue that might require a meeting, first ask yourself if it can be resolved by a two-line email <or> a quick phone call <or> a Skype or Google Hangout (which at least will save on travel time), If you simply must meet to resolve something, a short early morning meeting has been proven to be more effective than a late afternoon longer one. Send a calendar for 30 minute slot (not the default 1 hour found in many calendar software programs), have topics outlined in advance, and expect participants to be prepared; if they're not, cut it off immediately.
DO NOT answer the phone unless you know the caller.
It is your phone, for your convenience, and you are able to choose when and when not to answer it; unlike the days before email / SMS / Twitter / FB Messenger / Slack / etc., you're no longer obligated to instantly react to the "iPhone Marimba." This seems obvious, but how many times have you taken a call from a number you didn't recognize, and either been dragged into some urgent-but-not-important task, or worse-- ended up on a sales call? Use your phone (and it's very handy texting feature) as a tool to avoid meetings and to call your mother. In fact-- give her a ring right now, she'd love to hear from you. :)
DO NOT spend money on paid marketing unless it’s driving paid subscribers.
Setting up Google and Facebook ads is quick and easy to do. However, paid marketing often becomes a crutch for many founders as it gives the illusion of user growth. It becomes a black hole you pour money down. Instead, most founders should focus on the harder work of improving the product, and of retaining existing customers. Happy existing customers will spread the word for free. As a general rule of thumb, you should only spend your precious startup capital on paid marketing when: i) your LTV is > CAC; or ii) you're running experiments to determine your CAC and the effectiveness of different channels. In addition, be sure to have the right tracking analytics in place to see just how beneficial your efforts are.
DO NOT go to tech events unless you're a panelist or speaker.
Being social with other founders is fun, and networking is important but the list of tech events is endless; the hard-dollar costs and the opportunity-costs quickly add up. Sure, a laptop covered in cool startup stickers and a couple free hoodies is fun, but before plugging your credit card into Eventbrite, ask yourself what you hope to get out of attending and plan in advance who you want to meet and talk to. Further, if you can market your message to a large audience by being a featured speaker or panelist, then go for it!
Last but not least:
DO NOT be afraid to say no.
How many times have you said yes to something and immediately regretted it? Successful startup founders are excellent at processing the deluge of requests they get each day and isolating the ones that move the ball forward-- and saying NO to everything else. Any time you're asked for something that will require your attention or focus, take a second to consider if you really have time or if it fits in with your goals. Saying "no" effectively is a skill you can practice and improve; this skill is a defining characteristic of winners. Say "no" more often so you can focus on things that matter.
Wishing you a happy and productive New Year from Foundersuite. Go forth and conquer like a boss!