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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Thinking about starting a small business?

If you’re working on a tight staff and with a limited budget, here are some tips to succeed.

Thinking about starting a small business?
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

When you’re a small business owner tasked with juggling multiple areas of the company, it can seem intimidating at times because you want your business to be a success in the industry. You can reach short- and long-term goals by focusing on your own personal strengths.

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It’s best to strategically delegate tasks to key team members because this will allow them to develop and grow professionally. To avoid burnout across the organization, it’s also essential to keep your staff’s bandwidth in mind from the very beginning. Don’t be afraid to outsource other duties as needed. By doing so, your entire staff can focus on what truly matters in efforts to move the business forward one step at a time.

New to entrepreneurship and feeling overwhelmed about the business challenges that lie ahead in an uncertain market? Here are 12 experts from Fast Company Executive Board to share their best-kept practices for overcoming the obstacles of running a start-up.

1. OUTSOURCE SOME OF THE WORKLOAD.

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Outsourcing has proven to be extremely successful and workable in the short run because of the passing of responsibility. When you hire an agency, you trust them wholeheartedly to drive results. Also, hiring is an expensive affair, and hiring the wrong person is extremely costly. Therefore, when you outsource, your focus as a business owner is just on results, irrespective of who is behind it. – Candice  Georgiadis, Digital Agency, Inc

2. UTILIZE TIME AND SKILLS EFFICIENTLY.

The key with this is to identify your zone of genius and expertise and ensure that this is where you spend the majority of the time! You can use virtual support for many things, but the core focus is driven by you. You have the “special sauce of strategy” that no one else has and without you, there would be no business. Use your time wisely and do not spend it on tasks that others can do. – Leigh Burgess, Bold Industries Group, Inc.

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3. FOCUS ON WINNING HIGH-VALUE CLIENTS.

Prioritize sales by increasing the frequency and size of transactions. When you’re a small business owner, larger transactions with fewer clients that are high-value will allow you to scale more effectively. Review your customers with your team and fire the lowest 20%. They cause 80% of your support challenges. Ruthlessly weed out bad actors. – Mike Koenigs, The Superpower Accelerator

4. DON’T STRESS OVER PERFECTION.

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Obviously, a very rigorous prioritization and focus on the most impactful activities go a long way, as one can read in the “Eat That Frog” book. But another good lesson is not to be perfect. Just agree with your inner self that at this stage you only need things done at a “sufficient enough” quality level. In other words, not being perfect is sometimes the perfect approach. – Andrei Kasyanau, Glorium Technologies

5. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DELEGATE.

Value your time as one of your most valuable assets. I am the first to admit that at the beginning I tried to do everything myself to save money, but soon realized I was spending more time on administrative tasks than I was producing revenue. With that realization I hired out for an assistant and marketing team, opening opportunities otherwise missed. Your time is a valuable resource, so use it wisely. – Eric Brown, Imperio Consulting

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6. HIRE VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS.

A virtual assistant can take on work that allows you to work on the business instead of in the business. For example, virtual assistants can cover administration, social media, and marketing.  There are many great and economical virtual assistant resources out there. – Matt Domo, FifthVantage

7. BE MINDFUL OF POTENTIAL BURNOUT.

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Outsourcing is important but so is strategic insourcing. If you’re a sole owner or running a small business with just a few employees, however, insourcing can be risky since you can quickly run out of bandwidth. My advice is to be attentive to bandwidth from the onset. As you draw your personal accounts down, make sure you’re constantly refilling them so you don’t end up running on empty.  – Camille Preston, AIM Leadership, LLC

8. FOCUS ON YOUR PERSONAL STRENGTHS.

Outsource stuff you are not that good at. The “gig economy” is not just for chauffeurs. There are lots of sites out there where you can hire part-time help for financial modeling, web optimization, graphic design, software development, and just about anything else you can think of. Focus your own efforts on where you have the most expertise and make the biggest impact. – Alex Husted, HELPSY

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9. PRIORITIZE IMMEDIATE TASKS THAT ALIGN WITH COMPANY GOALS.

When we are in startup mode, we always prioritize tasks in the important and urgent buckets first, working our way down from there. When you’re wearing multiple hats, there will always be more things to get done, but it’s knowing which things are most critical and that align with your short and long-term goals that matter. As the saying goes, “focus creates wealth, diversification preserves it.”  – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

10. DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE BIG PICTURE.

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Prioritize the needs of your company and outline both short-term and long-term goals. While it is important to complete your daily tasks, you don’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

11. TRY DAY-THEMING.

Try day-theming by splitting the week up by your areas of focus. For example, Monday is devoted to the product, Tuesday’s focus is on company growth, Wednesday is spent on fundraising strategies, Thursday is centered on developing business opportunities, and so on. This approach provides our brains with the ability to think deeply about a topic for extended periods of time with predictability rather than switching between things and doing shallow work. – Suchit Tuli, Quantime

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12. UTILIZE KEY TEAM MEMBERS STRATEGICALLY.

You don’t necessarily need a large staff to stay productive. Key team members who can help you with multitasking while having their own responsibilities within the business are exactly what your company needs in order to get things rolling. As the organization grows, the core team members can take management positions so that they can adequately train additional staff. – Goran Paun, ArtVersion

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