Stay focused and productive building your covid startup

starting a new business during covid

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates, with the resulting economic impact, startup’s and smaller business owners are facing serious challenges. The pace of decision making can seem relentless as you navigate the best way forward.

To help support small business owners we are planning to launch our COVID STARTUP BUNDLE next week. We can help you think through important business launch issues, providing an external, experienced business consultant when you most need it.

Relevant areas that a brand strategy consultation can help with at this time include:

  • pivoting your business model
  • reviewing and updating strategic plans
  • dealing with rapid change
  • preparing for recovery

We have also outlined our top 10 tips below on how to stay focused and productive whilst building your COVID STARTUP.


Being organised is about more than the tools and apps you use. It’s about how productive you are. But listen up: “busy” is not the same as “productive”. If you’re busy spending time on the wrong tasks – tasks that are not growing your business – you’re just wasting time. Create yearly, quarterly and weekly plans to outline the money-making tasks in your business so you’re always focused on the right things.

You can’t get your business where you want it to go if you don’t know where you are or how fast you’re growing. So you don’t only need plans, you need to track your growth! Tracking your numbers will also help you understand what is and isn’t working in your business and help you make decisions based on facts, not emotions.


Dread opening your inbox? Feel a lump of anxiety in your chest every time you open your clients emails? Spend 2 hours drafting a reply to a negative message? Organise and automate your inbox to turn it from a thing you dread to a thing you’re excited to open each day.


It’s time to stop managing your projects through hundreds of emails across dozens of threads and use a project management tool with your clients instead. A project management tool is a secure page online where you can share files, send messages, create to-do lists, due dates, deadlines and more!


This is the process you take a potential client through when they go from “initial inquiry” to “booked client”. How organised this is determines how professional your clients see you. If they see you as messy and unprofessional, they won’t want to hire you. Period.


If you end your projects but your clients keep sending you millions of questions… Or you can never seem to get testimonials from your clients when their project is over… This is one area you need to organise – like yesterday! Put systems in place to cut down on questions, capture killer testimonials, and get your clients excited to refer others to you!


It’s time to stop manually posting to your Instagram stories (when you actually remember to do them), or spending an hour writing one caption. Automate your social media so you can free up time to take on more clients, launch an ebook, or… just watch more Netflix. Money Heist, anyone?


Streamline and speed up your content creation process so you can free up time to actually promote the epic content you’ve made! After all, what’s the point in spending all this time creating content nobody reads?


Organise your desktop files, Google Drive/Dropbox files and client folders so it doesn’t take you forever to find the files you need.


If you don’t have a team, you should consider hiring a virtual assistant, even if it’s just for 5 hours each month. (They could schedule your social media in that time!) If you do have a team, organise them. Find a tool where you’ll all communicate easily (like Slack). Set up monthly team meetings. Set up a team “Strike” system so you can keep on top of low and high performers and understand exactly when to let someone go or give them a bonus.


You’re not quite done yet. Step 1 – 9 will organise the main parts of your business. To tie things up, think about organising your desktop files, you’re tagging system inside your email list, bookkeeping process, passwords and your physical workspace.



    Many entrepreneurs get so caught up trying lots of different tools that all do the same thing , they end up so overwhelmed that they don’t use any of them.

    I’ll let you in on a secret: it doesn’t matter what tools you use. What matters is that you choose your tools fast, master them, and move on to more important tasks – like finding clients and making money!


    It shouldn’t take any longer than two weeks to organise your business (on the side of your regular routine). If it’s taking you longer than two weeks, you’re probably falling into the trap of perfectionism. Don’t worry, it’s a mistake most entrepreneurs make when organising their business. They try to find the perfect tools, get caught up in all the little details, and start over-complicating their processes.

    Just remember: you’re organising your business to save time and create peace of mind, not waste time and make yourself even more stressed. Every extra, unnecessary minute you spend trying to get organised is a minute you could have spent on marketing.

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Why you should outsource business development

Why you should outsource business development | Closer Consultancy | Blog

I find a common dilemma for founders and directors of startups is how to approach their first business development and sales hires.

Why is business development different for startups?

For most growing companies asking the same question, it’s more appropriate to ask “when” rather than “if”.

For example, if you’re the founder of an early stage tech company, sales and business development may be something that you currently handle yourself but eventually, as you gain traction in the market, it’ll become a core function that you build a team for. For you it’s more of a question of timing and funding.

But when you’re running a consulting or a professional services firm, such as a management consultancy or training provider for example, the question is more complex. For a start, finding a business development manager who is capable of selling your services is usually a major challenge.

In fact, I’d suggest that if you sell high value and complex products then you really can’t remove your delivery team from the sales process. In these situations, the business development role becomes primarily about “hunting” for new business.

What business development options are right for your company?

For many firms the options are generally split between hiring an in-house business development manager to fill the pipeline or outsourcing to a specialist business development consultancy or freelancer.

When considering these options I think it’s worthwhile asking the following questions:

  • How much new business do you need or can handle?
  • What’s the level of seniority you need to engage your market?
  • What’s your working environment like?

How much new business do you need or can handle?

Management consultancies and startups are different in the way that they look at business growth strategies. Generally they are harder to scale than businesses such as software vendors, plus they are particular about the type or work that they want.

Whilst your ability to scale dictates how much new business you can handle, the latter point is about the type of client or the type of work that you want.

Essentially, whereas a software vendor will take anyone’s cash if they are willing to part with it, services firms are concerned about client/work fit.

Put this all together and the answer of how much new business you want or can handle is usually “not that much” or “one or two new clients”.

Using this answer you can figure out how many prospects you need in the pipeline and what activities are likely to drive that number. Rarely do you end up with something that justifies a full-time employee.

What’s the level of seniority you need to engage your market?

This question deals with the caliber of the talent that you need to attract.

If you’re selling high-value B2B services and need to engage senior stakeholders in large organisations, for example, then you’re going to need more than a graduate hitting the phone.

That approach may work for companies where the sales process is more transactional, but in management consulting it’s not an option. By understanding the level of person you need you can determine how realistic it would be to attract that person into an in-house role, or whether you are more likely to find that person freelancing or running a specialist business development consultancy.

Why is that more likely? In my view, good people either move up or they move out. When they’ve moved out into the freelance world, they’ve usually done so for reasons such as flexibility, freedom to choose what they work on and often higher earnings (but not always so).

What this means is that smaller firms can attract a more senior person as a “client” rather than if you were advertising for an employee. And this usually fits very nicely with our first consideration around the amount of resources you need.

What’s your working environment like?

The final question I find useful in determining whether you hire an in-house business development manager or use an external freelancer or business development consultancy, is often the most overlooked.

Yet, it is usually the main reason that in-house business development managers don’t work out. Now, I’m pretty sure that your office is like 99.9% of all consulting and professional services firms I know. Open plan with everyone sitting staring into their screens doing client work, right?

When you drop a business development manager into that environment two things will happen. Firstly, for the business development or even salesperson, it’s just not the right environment for them to make calls. Now, I know that you might have heard that cold-calling is dead but I’m going to tell you this – sales is still a contact sport. Even if your BDM is pinging out emails and sending LinkedIn messages they will still need to pick up that phone at some point to get results. They may not be hammering out 120 dials a day like in the old days but they will need to be speaking with prospects – a lot! If they’re the only person on the phone they will become conscious of it, which more often than not leads to them doing less of it. I’ve seen it happen so many times.

Secondly, the impact on the office of someone hustling away in the corner usually isn’t ideal. Sure, some might see it as creating a bit of a buzz but for others it will be a distraction. Ask yourself honestly what office culture you have; if it’s quiet and peaceful – keep it that way and work with someone externally.

In-house Business Development, Freelance or Outsource?

So, you’ll now have a better idea of whether bringing someone in-house or working with external partners is likely to work for your business.

Obviously, there’s always a commercial dimension to this but any good business development manager, internal or external, should pay for themselves by contributing directly to your firm’s revenue.

In my experience, one of the greatest risks of hiring in-house is when it goes wrong. For consulting and professional services firms a business development hire is high-risk and requires a large commitment to get them up to speed and generating revenue.

Working with a freelancer or external business development consultancy is usually more flexible and provides the option to pilot the process to see how it works for your firm.