How to speed up productivity for your startup


No matter how much capital you’ve raised, how little sleep you need or how perfectly the stars are aligned, starting a business is tough. It’s no small feat to get a business up and running. However, the hard work doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve got your business off the ground, you need to keep it there. This can be especially challenging during times of economic uncertainty.  In this guest post, Darren Upson, director of small business at Xero gives his tips on how to organise startup priorities.

In Xero’s 2017 State of Small Business Report, 68 per cent of small businesses said current economic volatility was their biggest challenge. In times like these, profitability and growth are determined by productivity. Here are four simple ways you can make your startup more productive from the get-go.

Automate your admin

Administration is a necessary evil – all businesses, regardless of their shape or size, have to contend with repetitive tasks like payroll and invoicing. As a small business, your resources are limited which means these tasks can easily overwhelm the working week, leaving you to play catch up after hours and at the weekend.

The less administration you have to do, the more time you have for productive, strategic work, as well as that all-important downtime. Almost all data is digital now, so there’s no need to waste valuable time on manual data entry. If you want to run a successful business, you need to start working smarter – not longer.

Small business tools like the right software, for example, can boost your accounting productivity by capturing client transaction data. You can also use apps to digitise paper records, automate your invoicing processes to stay on top of debtors, and automate your payroll system to manage employee tax calculations and paperwork.

This will eliminate paperwork and save you hours of manual administration. It will also reduce the margin of human error, which means you won’t lose more time trying to troubleshoot faulty spreadsheets. This will leave you with the energy to dive into more interesting and profitable work.

Manage time well

Make a mental note of the tasks you do day-by-day and make sure you are spending as much time as possible on improving the bottom line. The trick to working smarter is focusing on the right work, not just any and all tasks. This goes for your employees too. It’s very easy to be busy, but does that work actually translate into profit?

Time-tracking software can help you and your team see where time is being spent, and help ensure that everyone is being 100 per cent productive.

Go mobile

Nowadays, business is done on the go; from taxis, coffee shops and even, the beach. We live in a mobile world, and mobile apps enable us to work from anywhere, at any time. This agility allows startups to be super responsive and make the most valuable use of time. This gives them a real competitive edge, and boosts productivity significantly.

Think about it; how much time do you waste in a day? From your mobile, for example, you can use your morning commute to catch up on administration tasks, or the time spent waiting for a meeting can be spent clearing your inbox. Time really is money so make every moment count.  

Don’t waste time chasing payments

Our own research found that on average small business owners in South Africa spend 1.25 days (10.4 hours) per month chasing payments. In other words, 6 per cent of each day is spent chasing invoices. This adds up to a lot of time, and money.

Chasing late payments is frustrating and awkward – particularly for a business that is only just beginning to build relationships. You’d also much rather spend your time making money than chasing clients for what they owe you. Apps that automate invoice reminders are a good investment. They give you time back by taking care of the awkward work for you – and get you paid faster.

To give your business every chance of success, you need to equip it with the right tools. Today’s business environment is fast-paced, highly competitive and increasingly digitised. Make sure you’ve harnessed the relevant software and apps to enhance your startup’s productivity, and ensure its longevity.


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Key players from Africa's startup and investment ecosystem post on issues close to their heart for Disrupt Africa.

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