We’ve been feeling like imposters for the last few weeks. You see, whenever we talk to a small-business owner or startup founder, we advise them to focus. To go after one customer segment. To highlight one benefit. To talk in one voice across their marketing channels.
How can you “focus” on more than one thing at a time? How can you “highlight” 37 services? How can you, with the constraints of a small business, manage more than one brand and ensure that your audience doesn’t get confused by conflicting messages?
But we’ve been doing all of this ourselves. We’ve introduced ourselves as “marketing consultants, and we also have a product” or as “we’re building a product, and we also do consulting services.” We’ve been dividing our time between servicing clients and working on the product.
If your feet are on two boats, what happens when the boats gather speed?
Are you ready to start your weekend? Are you taking a long weekend with Gudi Padwa or Bihu or whatever it is you celebrate? (We are, though the holiday is a coincidence — we had planned for a three-day weekend weeks ago, and had been drooling when we thought of it.)
Anyway. While you’re relaxing over the weekend, or as you get back to work on Monday, read these articles on productivity and procrastination, so that you can have a super-charged week. (Or year, if you remember the advice long enough.)
Etienne Garbugli puts together time management tips in this presentation. I especially love these:
Work is the best way to get working. Start with short tasks to get the ball rolling.
Switching between clients/projects is unproductive.
Always know the one thing you really need to get done during the day.
This weekend’s links are all about starting startups and working in startups.
If you’re just starting out, Daniel Tenner has advice for you. It’s awesome advice — even if you don’t agree or decide to ignore it anyway, read it.
Leo Widrich offers ten myths about startups. I found #1 particularly eye-opening: but it makes sense that deadlines don’t work “when you’re trying to do something innovative and new; when you don’t have a manual to refer to on how to perform your tasks.”
Rob Heaton tells you to check that you’re wearing trousers first, that is, try simple solutions first. This paragraph is key:
It’s a pleasant delusion to believe that all our problems require hard solutions. This way we feel interesting, get to do challenging things and become more attractive to members of our preferred sex. If you’re constantly feeling tired it’s tempting to become concerned about your iron levels, consider painting your ceiling a relaxing shade of ochre and look into buying a new pillow that fits your personality better. But you probably just need to go to bed a bit earlier. Perhaps on some level of consciousness we find it hard to believe that anything simple could possibly make a dent in our problems, which as we already know are of course really difficult and can only be solved by a super-genius such as ourselves. But there will always be simple things you are doing badly that you should look at first, especially in a startup where you deliberately ignore 90% of things so that you can do the other 10% really, really right.
Joel Gascoigne’s thoughts on building a minimum viable product (MVP) also made me sit up and think, especially as that’s in line with what we’re trying to do with Markitty.
Speaking of Markitty, if you haven’t yet read Nilesh’s account of our journey so far, do it now.
Unmana is out of action for a few days due to a small accident so I am bringing you this weekend’s reading. This one is going to be a mix of personal and business: hope you will find it useful and enjoyable.
If you feel you are always busy but still stress out for not doing enough, you must read Rethinking Productivity by Amber Naslund:
“Productivity, at its essence, means being able to bring things about. But sometimes, making that happen is as much about what you don’t do.”
And similarly this old piece by Paul Graham explains why some of us feel our whole day is wasted even if we have to attend one meeting.
Don’t hate me for including this one in a weekend reads list: Joel talks about the need for hard work and uses some interesting celebrity examples.
Read this hackathon experience of our hacker, Virendra, if you haven’t gone off to work by now and are still with me.
And a replug of our earlier post if you missed the announcement — we are live with Markitty Beta. Go sign-up now and let us know what you think of Markitty.
Have a good weekend!
Have you been lulled by heavy meals and year-end cheer? So have we. Let’s keep it light this week, shall we? No complicated guides and rules to remember in this round-up: just some food for thought as you lie back in your chair and digest that big meal.
MarketingProfs tells us about three things businesses can learn from non-profit organizations.
How do you get more replies to your emails?
Here are five ways you can build deeper relationships with your customers.
And here are 6 things really productive people do.
Take a guilt-free break! Yes, really.
Okay now, that’s enough reading. Go start your weekend!
We use Trello to manage our tasks, and this post gives you a lovely breakdown of why and how you should use it. And it’s free!
Here are six writing tips from Roald Dahl, via Copyblogger.
Copyblogger also breaks down Facebook’s EdgeRank and tells you what you should be doing for more engagement. Tl;DR? Keep trying different things to engage your audience (as Sahil Khan says here).
Create better landing pages with these tips from Hubspot: we especially like the last one!
Rand Fishkin ponders how you can get the best out of your employees.
And lastly, I loved this article about productivity myths. Now I can continue to not get up early or sort my emails properly without feeling guilty!
Being a small business or a startup means you don’t have much to spend on fancy tools, but a small business also needs to be extremely focused and productive to compete with bigger and more established businesses! Here are some tools I use that make my workweek easier, and that you might want to try out. Each of these is free, or has a free version you can use.
Evernote lets you take notes (text, audio, video), store web-clips, documents and stores all of these on the cloud so you can access from any of your devices. It’s an installed application, so you can use it even when you are offline and it syncs the data when you are connected. Most of us use multiple devices nowadays with one computer at work, another at home and then smart phone and maybe a tablet – install Evernote on each one and your life will be much easier. There is a web version too, if you prefer that.