foundational pillars of a strong startup

5 Foundational Pillars of a Strong Startup

If you’re in the startup phase of an entrepreneurial venture, you know there are many moving pieces and many aspects of your business to consider. While it can feel overwhelming, there are some aspects of your business that are more important than others. To make sure the time and resources you invest in your business are used wisely, explore these 5 foundational pillars that are critical for building a strong startup.

  1. Sound financial management skills

    While founding your company with a solid cash outlay can increase your chances of success, starting with a lot of cash won’t matter if you can’t manage your money well. Making poor financial investments or failing to plan for revenue downturns can leave your business on shaky ground. Make sure you have a good financial plan in place that includes strong money management habits. If you want to start a business but financial management isn’t your strong suit, consider contracting your business finances out to an accountant or firm with a good head for numbers.

  2. A dedicated leadership team

    With any startup, there will be challenges and unexpected setbacks. Dedication will be important for your key leadership team to help weather those storms. If your team abandons ship at the first sign of distress because they aren’t adequately prepared for these challenges, your startup may be short-lived. While your leadership team doesn’t need to be deep, you will want to have a few core team members who can help you generate new ideas and act as a soundboard for the future direction of your company.

  3. A solid business plan

    If you’ve heard that a business plan is only needed once you are looking for angel investors, you’re shortchanging yourself and putting the success of your startup at risk. The process of compiling a business plan helps to ensure you have solid systems in place and helps you think through aspects of your startup that you might not have considered otherwise. A solid business plan should include, at a minimum, a competitive analysis, marketing plan, SWOT analysis, and a 3-year financial projection.

  4. A marketing mindset

    Marketing is about communicating value to the people who are willing to listen. Starting your company with a marketing mindset is understanding this definition of marketing and how companies can provide and communicate value to a target audience. While you may have a new or creative idea, it won’t necessarily result in a viable business unless you can market it successfully. Start by understanding your target audience and what they need, then work to explain how your product fills that need using the language your target customers would use. When communicating value to these customers, be sure your marketing message is clear, succinct, and differentiates your offering from that of your competitors.

  5. Time management strategies

    In the early stages of your startup, it can be very easy to spend considerable time working “in” your business instead of “on” your business. Unfortunately, spending time on low return activities can be a death sentence to a fledgling company. As a business owner, you will need to strategically manage your time to ensure that you are investing in activities that will have long-term, growth-oriented results. Depending on your business goals and where you are in the business lifecycle, your time management strategies will focus on different aspects of your business, but remember to stay focused on tasks that can’t easily be delegated to others. To ensure you are managing your time well, initiate a weekly time tracking system. At the end of the week, evaluate how much time you spent on activities that pushed you towards your designated goals.

By ensuring that you have key resources in place for each of these 5 foundational pillars, you will give your start up the best chances of long term success. Evaluate each of these areas in detail and develop a plan to fill in the gaps for any resources that are currently lacking in your business plan.

future of cloud solutions

The Future of Cloud Technology in Business

Thanks in part to improved telecommunications infrastructure and efforts such as the Connect America Fund, cloud technology is rapidly evolving. As more individuals and businesses come to rely on high speed internet, cloud-based solutions will become an increasingly integral part of business operations. The recent emergence of 5G technology has also pushed the needle, allowing cloud-based service providers to develop more robust offerings while still providing near-instant product delivery.

Research by Bain & Company reveals that demand for cloud technology accounted for 70% of IT market growth from 2012-2015, and it is projected to remain steady at 60% of continued market growth through 2020. By combining newer automation technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with cloud-based services, business owners can improve operational efficiency using cloud technology in new and creative ways, including:

  • Automated customer service – Chatbots, automated phone assistants, and other customer service automation support are already available through many SaaS offerings, but will continue to improve in their ability to efficiently address a variety of customer service issues without the need for human-to-human interaction.
  • Inventory and logistics control – Cloud technology will continue to improve efficiency in labor control, warehouse space, and logistical operations in large manufacturing firms and warehouses.
  • Centralized HR and payroll processing – Cloud-based HR systems eliminate the need for an on-site HR professional at every physical location. Instead, businesses with multiple locations can process payroll and other HR functions through a centralized hub by pulling data from each individual location through the cloud.
  • Biometrics – Emerging companies like 23andMe use the power of cloud computing to process DNA and genomic analyses. Police departments and other forensic organizations are also using cloud-based biometric programs to conduct case research and coordinate cross-departmental tracking efforts. 
  • Medical records – As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, healthcare providers were required to utilize an electronic medical records system by January 2014. As the process of tracking, updating, and securing patient data continues to develop, cloud-services will adapt to meet this need.
  • Phone services and virtual communication systems – VoIP service providers and other internet-based communications services are being increasingly utilized by businesses to cut costs and improve operational efficiency.

As more businesses continue to embrace cloud technology and demand a wider variety of product and service offerings, cloud-based providers will work to remain competitive in an emerging marketplace by taking advantage of future developments in cloud computing. 

productivity hacks

Productivity Hacks for the Work Week

Starting the work week with a mountain of paperwork and a mile-long to-do list can leave you feeling overwhelmed before Monday’s lunch break. Feeling unproductive for several weeks in a row can set you up for burnout and missed work opportunities. Fortunately, there are several simple hacks that you can implement this week to turn our productivity around before quitting time.

Utilize distraction blocker apps

If you work in front of a computer for any part of your day, it can be tempting to pop open your social media feed or read through an interesting news article, especially when you’re feeling mentally blocked. Studies show this temptation is prevalent in the workplace – most people use only 60% of their available work time, primarily as a result of distractions such as email or online browsing. These simple distractions eat up more time than you realize and can compound your lack of focus. Avoid the temptation by utilizing distraction blocker apps, such as RescueTime. These apps block designated applications or websites for a specified time period, allowing you to clear your mind (and your desktop) of fruitless distractions.


Even if you don’t typically practice meditation outside of work, indulging in mindfulness at the office for just 5 minutes can help your productivity levels. A study in Psychological Science shows that intensive meditation can enhance brain function leading to greater focus, even during mundane tasks.

Schedule appointments with yourself

While there is probably no shortage of meetings already on your calendar, including some appointments with yourself can improve the effectiveness of your schedule as a productivity tool. Block out designated time to work on larger projects, schedule break times, and build in “quiet” time for deep thinking or personal development. By scheduling out any unused blocks of time in your calendar, you can use your schedule as a visual queue to help you stay on task and seamlessly transition between activities.

Eat the frog

In his book “Eat That Frog!”, Brian Tracy recommends an important productivity hack. If you have to eat a live frog, you should eat it first thing in the morning. In other words, to avoid procrastination, get a jump start on your biggest, most challenging, and least desirable task at the beginning of your day. This will leave you with a sense of accomplishment once the task is finished, and you’ll also feel relieved and unblocked for the remainder of the day knowing that your most difficult task is behind you.

Establish a nightly routine

Many people have a morning routine, but establishing a nightly routine can also have a significant impact on your weekly productivity. This doesn’t involve brushing your teeth and changing into pajamas before bed; your nightly routine should include the tasks you commit to doing before quitting work for the day. These items might include reviewing your calendar for the next day, cleaning off your desk, or getting to inbox zero. Whatever your personal routine, committing to it faithfully will set your next work day up for maximum productivity.

Delegate non-essential tasks

Trying to handle every task personally will kill your productivity. Free yourself up to do important work by delegating non-essential tasks, such as personal household chores or low-value work responsibilities. To identify which tasks you should pass off, try the following:

  • Value your time on a per-hour basis. If, for example, you can earn $30/hour at work, you might value your time at $30/hour.
  • Identify tasks that you would consider delegating. Build a list with a considerable number of tasks that you could pass off to others, either through outsourcing or through rearranging priorities on your current team.
  • Calculate the hourly cost of outsourcing or delegating each task on your list. If, for example, an item was “mowing the lawn”, it may cost you $50 to hire a landscaper and 2 hours to mow the lawn yourself. This translates to an hourly cost of $25/hour to delegate.
  • Pass off any tasks that are cheaper to delegate than your personal value. Honor your worth; if you can make more money than it would cost to delegate a particular task, delegate it and focus on higher-value activities instead.

Complete a social media detox

In addition to being a distraction at work, social media is often a mental distraction throughout the week. Feelings of boredom, sadness, happiness, curiosity, or frustration can all compel people to take to social media and share thoughts or mindlessly scroll through the stories of others. If you find yourself constantly turning to social media, complete a social media detox for one week to break the habit of constantly pulling up your social feeds. Research shows that a one-week social detox can improve sleep patterns, decrease feelings of stress, enhance mental clarity, and increase productivity. Even without those added benefits, heavy social users may save up to 30 hours per month by cutting out social media.

By focusing on simple changes that can improve your productivity, you can reap many benefits beyond increasing your work capacity; you will likely experience more creativity, improved mindset, and a newfound sense of enthusiasm for your work.