As someone who started their first business from scratch, Launch Leads, I'm aware of the many and varied issues entrepreneurs need to identify and overcome to ensure their new business is a success. And with people increasingly looking to start their own business along that come with alarmingly high failure rates, there is a serious need for guidance on how best to eliminate unproductive business practices that waste time and threaten profitability.

Luckily for today's entrepreneurs, there is a wealth of wisdom and resources available to help them maximize productivity and in turn, revenue.

1. Tech-over Your Workspace: Unproductive meetings cost companies an estimated $37 billion each year. This is an astonishing figure and there are a number of factors that cause meetings to be labeled unproductive. One example everyone is familiar with is having to reschedule an important meeting because a room didn't have necessary technology like video or projecting capabilities. Luckily, there are tools available to make sure you make the most of your meetings and workspace.

For a detailed understanding on how much time is wasted by unproductive meetings, I spoke with Zach Holmquist, CTO at EventBoard, a team that has made it their mission to provide companies with the appropriate tools to increase employee productivity by streamlining workspace management.

Addressing the frustration of having to reschedule meetings due to a lack of technology, Zach said, "Large empty conference rooms taking-up office space is a familiar tale to most companies. However, EventBoard's analytics often show this is due to rooms lacking the appropriate technology such as A/V systems. When setting-up a business, it's imperative you make the most of space. Luckily, EventBoard's analytics can provide actionable recommendations on required meeting room technology and workspace use, ultimately freeing-up a lot of precious time and resources that is often wasted."

2. Keep Communications Brief: 205 billion emails are sent across the globe each day while office workers receive an estimated 121 emails during that same 24 hours, according to a recent report. This is an astonishing figure and given the sheer volume, it's no wonder people report they suffer from email-related anxiety.

For better or worse, email is very much needed to get things done. Yet email doesn't need to be a massive time drain. To gain more insight on how to reduce time wasted on email, I caught up with Dave McDowell, SVP of Alto Mail and here's what he had to say: "As someone who receives a vast number of emails everyday, having to sift through a long thread or long-winded emails is a major pet-peeve. If possible, position your emails as action items and ensure your subject line is as specific as possible."

"Most importantly, lead by example when starting your business. Only email when necessary and be brief, Employees will follow and productivity will flow."

3. Up Your Game With Data and Science: Today, salespeople have a wealth of information at their fingertips, offering them the opportunity to solve the when, who, why, what and how of selling. This science is also rapidly evolving, not only providing salespeople with data on how best to meet and exceed contacts needs but also on when is best to do so, and what steps to take to seal the deal. For example, new data from InsideSales.com's Business Growth Index, based on 5 million+ sales pipeline interactions, offers insights into how teams can make small tweaks that can have a large impact on a company's bottom line.

Mick Hollison, CMO at InsideSales, provided one example of how data can increase efficiency and in turn, productivity, "Sales teams often stack up too many deals to close scramble for deals at the end of each month or quarter. However, our data illustrates that to win big, it makes more sense to spread out your sales efforts throughout the month. High performing sales teams are closing every day. New data from our Business Growth Index shows that sales teams have an average win rate of 65% earlier in the month, but that win rate plummets to only 33% over the last two days of the month. So it may even make sense to front-load sales incentives to shift deals earlier in the month for anyone trying to maximize their revenue."

4. HR Doesn't Have to be a Time Drain: Entrepreneurs face many challenges in the early years of starting a business, and a company's growth can add increasing complexity as more resources are needed for tasks like personnel, HR and benefits management. Each new hire requires on-boarding and processing, which brings an additional cost for training, benefits, payroll, and more. The result is many small businesses are forced to compromise on benefits they offer. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 45% of companies with under 100 employees offer 401(k)s due to their cost and complexity.

Companies of every size need to be able to manage their employees and offer comprehensive benefits to stay competitive. To find out how they can do this without damaging productivity, I spoke with Camilla Velasquez, Head of Product at Justworks, an HR and benefits management platform for small businesses.

Speaking to the challenge of offering comprehensive benefits, Camilla shared: "Managing human resources, payroll and benefits typically requires a dedicated HR team, but many small businesses don't have the resources to support this level of investment. Working with a partner to oversee these responsibilities can help growing companies free up time and resources to focus on expanding their business. A cloud-based system that gives employees the ability to manage benefits and perks enrollment themselves can help entrepreneurs focus on the bigger picture of growing and sustaining their business."

5. Embrace the 'New Normal' in a Modern Workplace: Today's on-demand, modern workforce has changed the way many people conduct business, with more flexible schedules, increased travel and even work-from-home policies to accommodate busy lifestyles. But despite employee location, time zone differences or travel itineraries, the show must go on -- and finding the right means to keep business moving can be challenging.

To gain a better understanding into this modern workplace, I connected with Lori Wright, CMO of BlueJeans, a company that offers video communications experiences for businesses. In discussing today's workplace culture, Lori said, "Work no longer happens within the physical walls of the company. In an always-on environment, video helps people connect easier and get work done more efficiently. Oftentimes audio becomes the lesser substitute for when employees can't see each other face-to-face, but video bridges that gap and makes the interaction more humanized whether at home, the airport, or the local coffee shop. With more than 1/2 of all communication happening through body language, video fills in a big part of the equation that audio simply can't provide."

Published on: May 25, 2016