How Startup Founders Can Better Manage Their Time

By Michael Whitehouse

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Photo credit:

As we tell our founders at 1000 Angels, the private investor network that connects startups with investors, time management is an important component of any business, but when it comes to launching a startup it is even more critical. Excitement and passion alone won't fuel your project – you need structure to determine how and when to achieve a goal. Without that, your startup is a rudderless ship from the outset. When time is of the essence for a new initiative to establish itself, a flawed or absent approach to time management can prove to be fatal.

Manage Your Time, Solve Your Problems

Time management isn't just about being “on time”; it's about directing yourself and your employees towards solving issues for your business in a systematic and organized way. If your startup is still a one-person show, your time management skills are going to be focused on what you alone can achieve, what problems need to be addressed, and how long it will take you to do so. If you have employees or are part of a team, then you will be incorporating time management techniques into delegating tasks and charting a course for your business. For some, you'll be doing both.

There are many different approaches to time management, but we're going to focus on a six-step plan to get your startup on track. It could be that you are naturally well organized and that your business already runs efficiently, but there are always improvements to be made. Stagnancy and complacency are precursors to failure, especially at this early stage. Alternatively, you could be big on passion and ideas but lack appreciation of time as a valuable resource. In this case, time management is even more critical to you.

Whatever your situation, the six steps explored below are sure to increase your business’ or project's efficiency, help you meet your goals quicker, and contribute to maintaining healthy growth throughout your organization. Most importantly, they'll help you launch your product or service as quickly and effectively as possible.

Step 1: Be Honest

Throughout this entire process you will need to be honest. This involves being completely clear about three things:

  • What your habits are and what you are capable of.

  • What your team’s strengths are.

  • What is achievable in a given time-frame.

By knowing what your habits are you can work within them to increase your efficiency. Perhaps you work better at night, or your schedule dictates a need for getting the most important tasks out of the way in the first few hours of the morning – you can use this awareness to maximize your time, focusing on when you are most productive. There is one caveat here: if you perceive a habit as a genuinely negative trait, like being easily distracted from work, then that is something of which you must be mindful and remove from your routine. Also, be honest about your capabilities. If it will benefit the business to delegate or outsource a task to someone else, then do not be afraid to do so. Learning new skills and pushing yourself is a positive pursuit, but when time is of the essence, know where your own capabilities are best employed.

What are your team’s strengths? There is little point in delegating a task to a staff member whose talents are better suited elsewhere within your startup – in fact, it’s counterproductive. Try to assess the individual strengths of each team member, and then delegate those tasks to them. This will speed things up markedly.

The last point here is an essential one: what can be achieved in a given time-frame? Unreasonable targets for you or your staff are a sure way to undermine your startup. Miscalculating this or being overly optimistic can seriously impede your schedule when things start running substantially over. Optimism and ambition is important in driving performance and persistence, but be honest and realistic with yourself about how long a task will take and you can better prepare and schedule other goals around it.

Step 2: Weekly Agenda

Your startup should already have a business plan outlining major commercial objectives, but what it also needs is a weekly battle-plan to supplement it. An agenda which is revised every seven days mapping out the short term issues faced by your company, how they will be tackled, and a reasonable time-frame for doing so is valuable. A great approach is to set aside 30 minutes to an hour every Friday or weekend to go over what needs to be achieved within the next seven days.

It is important to keep in mind that these shorter, 7 day plans take you and your startup closer to the big picture – your end goal. Whether it is to establish your product in a specific market, engage with a new demographic, or just launch your product or service; your weekly agenda should always be set with the bigger picture in mind. Break this larger goal into smaller ones so it seems more manageable, and you can more effectively navigate the process. This brings us to prioritizing your agenda.

Step 3: Prioritize

There is no point in having a haphazard approach to your weekly agenda. This can result in slower progress from a lack of focus. Even worse, it could mean that you complete a task out of order without taking into consideration how each task might benefit the one which succeeds it. Take your agenda and rank the items from least important to most important. Then order this list in terms of which tasks would be better solved first to make way for subsequent ones. Perhaps it's more important to have a business logo designed before progressing with funding drives, for example. This should give your agenda a great balance between importance and practicality, allowing you to work through the problems in a systematic, effective way.

Step 4: Find Your Time Vampires

Time management isn't just about organization, it's also about identification – figuring out the elements of your business which are hindering progress. This could be something as simple as a  scheduling conflict, or something more serious like a manufacturing issue. In many instances it will be how tasks are undertaken, and how much time is given to administration.

How long do you spend answering emails or engaging on social media with potential customers and investors? Could this be streamlined? Are members of your staff unable to complete tasks quickly because of the software they are using? In some extreme circumstances you might find entire aspects of your startup's workday which need outright removal. No matter what facet of your business is taking time away from your agenda, there will always be a way to increase efficiency.

Be wary of organizational processes which are unimportant and take up too much time. In order to identify the time vampires in your routine or organizational setup, keep a log of activities for a week and see how long tasks are taking. If a task seems to be taking unreasonably long, then it probably is. You might also identify tasks or habits which take up too much time and are entirely unnecessary.

Step 5: Innovate

We mentioned software issues in the last step, and it's a salient point here – always innovate. This doesn't mean you need to constantly upgrade software or implement the next organizational tool like Trello if your startup doesn't need it; but you should always be on the lookout for new ways of doing things. Perhaps an upgraded software package will allow you or your staff to complete tasks faster, or implementing cloud technology into your projects could help team members work more closely. Maybe you will find a new time management technique which doubles productivity on a given task – whatever the innovation, always be aware that innovation is the lifeblood of sustainability. Furthermore, your competitors could be making use of something you have never even heard of, so it is important to try and stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive.

Step 6: Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is one of many time management approaches out there. When used it can exponentially increase productivity by keeping you and your staff alert, while allowing you to break larger tasks into smaller ones. Named after an Italian kitchen timer, the Pomodoro Technique simply involves working for a set period, usually 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. Repeat 4 times then take a 20 minute break. This approach is used by freelancers and businesspeople around the world to get the most out of their working time. First of all, the Pomodoro Technique makes larger tasks seem less daunting by allowing you and your staff to tackle them one 25-minute session at a time. Secondly, you are never far away from a break, even if it is just 5 minutes, and is enough to seriously energize you while keeping the task from becoming stale.

There are plenty of free pomodoro timers available for PC, MAC, iOS, and Android. This is a time management technique which has been used throughout the world since the 1980s, and it has endured for one simple reason – it works.

Time Management is Essential

Time management is a skill in of itself, and one which needs constant amendment and dedication. What's certain is that implementing the steps mentioned above, along with other time management approaches, can significantly increase what you, your team, and your startup can achieve in a short space of time.

Combine your passion and business acumen with time management, and your company will have a much better chance of success.

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6 Things That All Entrepreneurs Should Stop Worrying About

By Philip Acuna

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Photo credit:

Something that we see at 1000 Angels, the private investor network that connects startups with investors, are entrepreneurs dealing with what it is well considered a stressful endeavor. Being the entrepreneur behind a newly launched startup is even more stressful, since it means constantly having to balance on the fine line between failure and success. Many of the concerns that one has during this time period are warranted, particularly when it comes to budget, client retention, and simply surviving the competitive startup ecosystem. Other concerns, however, are irrational and can take away from the precious energy needed to successfully run a business.

We spoke with six startup founders at different stages in their careers, and asked them what one thing was that all entrepreneurs should stop worrying about.

1. Competitors

"Keep an eye on them for sure, but don't let what they do dictate what you do too much. Focus on doing what you do best and innovate. If you're watching your competitors too closely, you'll be playing a constant game of catch up that won't do you much good."

Mark Volkmann, Massagebook


2. Success

"Worrying about success is the best way to not succeed. Too much focus on outcomes rather than on getting the job done well is very detrimental. It’s easy to get impatient if you're thinking about results all the time. Even failed experiments teach you so much."

Niraj Rout, Mailflo


3. Micro-Managing

"Stop sticking your nose into every company project. Delegation is a pathway for entrepreneurial success and personal sanity maintenance. Once you get to a certain size you have to trust that your team will execute and implement tasks, ideas and strategies successfully. If not, you will only slow the company’s progress, overall success and productivity."

Tim Nichols, ExactDrive


4. The Perfect Product

"Stop worrying about getting your product out there as quickly as possible. There are a lot of teachings encouraging new entrepreneurs to fail and fail quickly. But that doesn't mean that you should rush to bring something to market. There is something to be said about taking your time to build a good product. Develop your product in stages and design KPI's (key performance indicators) around each chunk to measure your success. Validating your ideas before you bring your product to the mass market is the best thing you can do if you want to build a sustainable business."

Zoey McKenzie, OMNI


5. Criticism

"Every entrepreneur should stop worrying about haters. I see a lot of business owners who are getting hung up on negative reviews and are totally convinced that this is a sign of them doing something wrong. Yes, it might be, and it makes perfect sense to analyse those reviews and make improvements based on any feedback. But entrepreneurs should also keep in mind that no matter how careful they are, there will be haters anyway. Invest in quality product, put emphasis on customer support and positive reviews will outbid the negative ones."

Ksenia Rostova, inSelly


6. Time

"I would suggest that the time is one area where entrepreneurs worry there is never enough! However, with correct task priority and scheduling, time is something which we should all stop worrying about. At the end of the day, there is only a certain amount of hours - efficient use is the only way to meet time constraints head on."

Robert Sturt, MPLS Network Specialist

Securities offered through WealthForge, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC Onevest Corporation ("Onevest") is not a registered broker-dealer and does not give investment advice with respect to any securities. All the startup offerings listed are offered by the applicable Issuer. Onevest has not taken any steps to verify the accuracy of the information provided on the offerings that are listed. Onevest takes no part in the negotiation of the transaction and no securities are executed through Onevest's platform. Onevest receives no compensation in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.

Hyperlinks to sites outside of our domain do not constitute an approval or endorsement of content on the visited site.

Thoughts On Hustling: Why Some Founders Win and Others Don't

By Aston Reynolds

Photo Credit- Flickr/

Photo Credit- Flickr/

If you watch the ABC show Shark Tank, you'll notice the sharks ask a lot of questions about revenue. It doesn't matter how good an idea seems on the surface. If there's no revenue, they usually aren't interested.

This begs an important question. Imagine you're a founder with a really great idea. How do you turn that idea into revenue? An idea for a product is one thing. Making money selling your product is something else entirely. It's often the difference between a product and a business This is something that we see repeatedly at 1000 Angels, the private investor network that connects startups with investors.


How Ideas Become Businesses

Many founders are tempted to start raising money as soon as possible. They often plan to use that money to hire marketing and sales staff. But raising money without revenue is hard. And producing revenue without money is hard. Sometimes it seems like there's a "catch 22" built into the system.   

There's no "catch 22," but there is a catch. The catch is founders have to hustle in order to turn a product into something that begins to resemble a business. Hustle is related to grit. Grit is related to gumption. It is incredibly difficult, some would even say impossible, to build a business without these attributes.


What is Hustle?

The dictionary gives us 21 different definitions for the word "hustle," but none of them accurately conveys what it means in terms of growing a start-up.

We also have the pejorative "hustledork" to work from, but that definition is not likely to be useful, either. It's a fairly common refrain that start-ups in the early stages need a "hustler and a hacker" to get off the ground. In lieu of an accurate definition, have a look at the following poster by Joey Roth:

Charlatan, Martyr, Hustler


From the chart, we can tell that a hustler is equal parts charlatan and martyr. Charlatans talk a lot, and they're easy enough to find in the marketer ranks. Martyrs work a lot, and they're easy to find among developers and designers. It's also plain to see that a hustler who doesn't work is a fraud, a charlatan.

What charlatans and martyrs both lack is the ability to work and then talk about their work vigorously and persuasively.

But we still haven't defined what it really means to hustle. To really define it, let's go back to a 2012 article by Greg Kumparak published in PandoDaily:

"To truly hustle is to do whatever it takes to make that next dollar, no matter how crazy or ridiculous."

In the early stages, hustlers are important because the work of building the business and the work of promoting and operating the business must be done by as few people as possible. Ideally everyone involved in the start-up has some of those precious hustle genes in their DNA. 

Start-up reality often dictates the developer has to extend his or her day running errands or taking care of customers by answering emails and returning phone calls. The sales pro might need to know something about development and design to be truly useful, especially when there are just two people on the team. The team's ability to wear not just many hats but all of the hats is often what separates a mere idea from a burgeoning business, at least in the beginning.


An Example

As Tom Harari, CEO of NYC-based Cleanly demonstrates, this is true even after a start-up secures seed funding:

"[After leaving San Francisco via the red-eye to NYC, Harari's] back on the street, putting Cleanly door tags on apartment buildings and working the room at meetups and cocktail parties as he looks for potential customers. When the company’s drivers get overwhelmed, Harari and cofounders, Itay Forer and Chen Atlas, handle the deliveries themselves."

(Fast Company, February 2015)

Although Cleanly relies on their drivers, they know not to push them too hard. And they also know that bringing on extra, or even temporary, drivers will not only speed their burn rate, it may also compromise the service their first customers receive. When the business gets hectic, they take on the extra responsibilities themselves. They know how to hustle. 


Can Hustle Be Taught?

We're not sure, but we know hustle is infectious in the same way enthusiasm and leadership are infectious. Having the right person on the team may inspire the rest of the team to do whatever it takes to get or retain the next customer. It seems to work out best when everyone brings their own unique hustle to the table starting from day one.

Some developers and designers pull 36-hour marathon sessions in front of their machines only to crash on a couch, all based on an unsubstantiated hunch originating in another founder's inbox. Others won't last more than ten hours. The difference comes down to hustle. In business, the difference between success and failure often comes down to doing what other people are not willing to do.


Why It Matters

Investors watch for founders who hustle. It's not good enough to convince them your idea is good. You have to show them your idea is good using the best evidence you can have, usually numbers. When it comes to business, revenue is the king of numbers. Where there is revenue, there is often a good idea backing it up. The revenue often matters more than the idea when you want, or need, other people's money to help you start or grow your business. The only way to get there for most founders is to do things other people are not willing or even capable of doing.

You're going to have to show investors the money. You have to show them something so compelling that they feel stupid walking away from it. Investors cut checks when you can show them your company's profitability is as certain as death and taxes. There are no checks for founders who come up short, either from investors or the marketplace. Before you can explain it to them, you have to be able to explain, and prove, it to yourself. The best way to do that is to hustle. 


Final Thoughts

Earlier we said hustle was composed of "grit" and "gumption" before going on to define hustle as doing whatever it takes to get customers, no matter how silly.

Google reveals that gumption is "shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness."

And grit is "courage and resolve; strength of character."

Resourcefulness means finding new ways of doing things. You have to be shrewd to do these things without burning through your runway. And you have to be spirited to get off the ground. And nothing takes to the air without courage, resolve, and strength of character. All of these things combine with technical and business skill to create what entrepreneurs, founders, and investors call "hustle." 

Securities offered through WealthForge, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC Onevest Corporation ("Onevest") is not a registered broker-dealer and does not give investment advice with respect to any securities. All the startup offerings listed are offered by the applicable Issuer. Onevest has not taken any steps to verify the accuracy of the information provided on the offerings that are listed. Onevest takes no part in the negotiation of the transaction and no securities are executed through Onevest's platform. Onevest receives no compensation in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.

Hyperlinks to sites outside of our domain do not constitute an approval or endorsement of content on the visited site.

Passionate Entrepreneurs and Innovators Gather to Share Struggles and Strategies for Success - Collaborate Recap

This past weekend, almost 1,000 people converged on the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, D.C. for the Collaborate conference hosted by Fosterly. I was fortunate enough to attend, and after two days left with the standard conference package: a stack of business cards; pages of notes from panels, keynotes and workshops; and ambitious plans for new initiatives with the people I met. A lingering question remained that I had avoided answering until the conference had closed down, but had been searching for an answer to ever since I arrived. What was the true value of this particular conference? What separated Collaborate from all the other networking events in DC and around the world?

Yes, that's a Tesla Model S in the middle of the atrium. 

The Tesla Model S sitting in the main atrium was a minor differentiator, but clearly a statement by Fosterly that they wanted this weekend to stand out. More importantly, the conference emphasized the intersection between government and entrepreneurship, providing a safe space for the two sides to share ideas for collaboration. The conference environment broke down any barriers that might exist - literally or figuratively - between government and the private sector. This rarely-seen openness revealed just how much more we can do to innovate and improve people’s lives by fusing the power (and budget) of government authority with the innovation and growth of the private sector.

Collaborate was peppered with rich content, leaving me wishing on several occasions that I could be in multiple places at once. Here are some highlights from what I did see:

Oratium's Pyramid of Planned Outcome: Knowledge leads to Belief, which leads to Action.

Entrepreneurs know that in order to have a successful business, perhaps the most important skill you need is the ability to communicate the business’ value to your customers. The same can be said when seeking an opportunity to collaborate, especially with government, where regulations and red tape can slow you down. Powerful communication is essential, and that’s why I loved Eli Murphy’s engaging and memorable workshop on advanced communications strategies. Eli is the SVP at Oratium, an international communications firm. Eli’s presentation focused on the process of conveying your message so that it is absorbed by your audience. The key, Eli explained, is starting with the audience’s problem, rather than about your own need. Here are the questions to ask when giving a presentation (in this order) taken from Oratium’s model:

  • “As a result of this presentation, what do I want my audience to DO?”

  • “In order to make a decision to do this, what does my audience need to BELIEVE?”

  • “To believe these things, what does my audience need to KNOW?”

This cycle of “Know → Believe → Do” will help shape every presentation you make into a powerful message that inspires action from your customers.


"Thinking is a terrible way to think." -Tom Chi, Co-founder of Google(x)

Tom Chi, the co-founder of Google(x) and the co-creator of Google Glass, delivered a motivating and humor-filled keynote on Friday evening about rethinking innovation. Tom provided examples from his own work, including creating the first Google Glass “prototype” a mere three hours after coming up with the idea (they used a clear sheet protector, a wire hanger, and a netbook). The importance of iteration and rapid learning is often misconstrued as part of the misunderstood concept of “failing fast”. Tom emphasized that guessing and failing are only positive if you learn something significant during the process. As he said, “thinking is a terrible way to think.” Instead, doing is the best kind of thinking, because it is impossible to consider all the possibilities and factors in a decision by merely thinking about it. Tom asserted that merely thinking about a problem will yield an 80% solution to only 25% of the problem. There are things we simply will never consider unless we take action. Through various strategies like mandatory customer feedback, ambitious thinking and rapid prototyping, Tom closed by encouraging the audience to “maximize the rate of learning by minimizing the time to try things."

"The secret to success is self-awareness." -Shawn Nelson, Founder & CEO of Lovesac.

Saturday morning opened with, in my opinion, the most honest and hard-hitting content of the weekend. Shawn Nelson (Founder/Chairman of Lovesac), D.P. Venkatesh (CEO at mPortal), and Tien Wong (Serial CEO and angel investor) sat down to discuss the toils of entrepreneurship. Although it was simply an informal discussion, all three leaders shared valuable insights on the true hardships of building a business. Shawn Nelson observed that “there has never been an article published that truly captures how difficult entrepreneurship really is.” He also mentioned that “the secret to success is self-awareness.” Preaching mental preparation, routine, and a healthy lifestyle, the panel was sure to leave a few founders in the audience second-guessing their decision to pursue entrepreneurship.

The last session I attended was a strong example of the benefits of providing an open space for collaboration. Shana Glezer, VP of Social Marketing at SocialRadar, and Jenna Gavin Kelly, CEO of Peerdash, led a roundtable discussion about women in entrepreneurship. I was one of four men, among 20 women, and it was enlightening to hear the variety of perspectives on how women can prosper and grow as entrepreneurs. Most agreed that women are held to a higher standard, and that it is much more difficult to get funding as a female founder. However, there was much more variance in opinion when brainstorming potential solutions. The lack of more women in entrepreneurship is a problem, but crowdfunding may offer one solution: women are receiving more total funding on crowdfunding platforms than men. I am grateful to work with a female co-founder at Onevest, Tanya Privé, who has given me a firsthand perspective on the challenges faced by a female founder and how she is facing them head on.

Springboard Enterprises held two “Dolphin Tank” sessions, playing off the ABC hit show “Shark Tank”, but with a bigger focus on feedback and making introductions than on actual investments. Springboard president Amy Millman brought on a few other  ensured that pitching entrepreneurs had a safe environment to share their ideas and receive constructive feedback.

The team at Fosterly and all the volunteers did a wonderful job in making sure everyone was engaged, and reinforced the innate value of these types of events - bringing like-minded people together to share ideas. An important realization is that everyone always needs help with something, and at an event like Collaborate, chances are you might find the person who can help.


Securities offered through WealthForge, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC Onevest Corporation ("Onevest") is not a registered broker-dealer and does not give investment advice with respect to any securities. All the startup offerings listed are offered by the applicable Issuer. Onevest has not taken any steps to verify the accuracy of the information provided on the offerings that are listed. Onevest takes no part in the negotiation of the transaction and no securities are executed through Onevest's platform. Onevest receives no compensation in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.

Testimonials may not be representative of the experience of all clients. Testimonials are not a guarantee of future performance or success.

Hyperlinks to sites outside of our domain do not constitute an approval or endorsement of content on the visited site.

Onevest at Collaborate: Helping Fosterly Stimulate the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

This post was originally published on the Collaborate blog as a Onevest guest post.

The value of a vibrant community, particularly as related to entrepreneurship, is widely recognized and appreciated. Community resources, mentors, and peer collaborations are just some of the intangible pieces every entrepreneur needs, and that only come with a strong network. When it comes to building a company, most first-time founders lean heavily on peer expertise and mentorship to guide them. The same is true for more experienced entrepreneurs. Whether moving from one startup to the next, or growing your company from 2 to 40 people, engaging with a deep personal and professional network is pivotal. Ask any successful entrepreneur, and you would be hard-pressed to find one who got to where they are now without the help of others. The “all by myself” mentality is not only unhealthy, but also completely unsustainable in entrepreneurship. By identifying leaders in the community, you can utilize their influence and experience to help move your company forward. The same is true for peer collaboration. 

Collaborate by Fosterly brings this community to your doorstep. At events like Collaborate, you have the opportunity to meet with like-minded people who not only are as driven and dedicated as you are, but also share a common goal of moving a startup forward. Those personal interactions, from a simple handshake, to receiving valuable advice, to even closing a business deal, are immensely valuable. In addition, most of these people come to an event like Collaborate with a community-oriented mindset, open to sharing their knowledge. Fosterly beautifully integrates this principle into their own community of thousands of entrepreneurs. They offer tons of great resources, events, workshops, and more to help entrepreneurs grow their own business and help others grow theirs.

Onevest wants to take that unique experience of collaboration and mentorship online. We imagine a world in which an entrepreneur can attain the same valuable knowledge and relationships through a digital portal. This was our inspiration for creating Learn.Onevest. Learn.Onevest is a peer-to-peer learning platform that offers massive amounts of content (think “Reddit” for entrepreneurship) on topics ranging from team-building, to fundraising, to investing. Readers have the ability to see who else is viewing an article/video, converse with that person, comment on a specific section, and up/downvote. Our mission is to bring that community feeling into the digital space. 

One key feature involves a curated curriculum of content that brings valuable content to a central place. We’ve created the first curriculum to help get you started. Click the link below to gain access.