Scrappy is good. Efficient is better!

Everyone knows you need the right tools to do the job well. You can demolish a wall with a spoon but unless you’re trying to kill time, get a sledge hammer. Or, if your time is worth more than $25/hr, hire someone else to do it and get it off your plate completely.

This can be applied to nearly all facets of your startup - some you are probably overlooking. Being scrappy is great. It’s an admirable trait in general and you can learn a lot along the way. But, as soon as you can afford it, you should favor efficiency.

Using just Google Analytics and an FTP client we can test different variations of landing pages. Using Website Optimizer we can do it more efficiently. Using a dedicated landing page CMS, while not cheap, allows us to do it more efficiently still.

For a long time I did mockups and wireframes using Snagit Beta for Mac (free). I found I could do them 10x more efficiently using Balsamiq which was designed for that task. Interestingly enough I now use Keynote (a slide presentation tool) which allows me to be another 3x as efficient - and more detailed so there’s less time lost on back and forth with my designer and developers.

I can get by with basic accounting, but it’s not what I’m great at and not what my business needs me to be doing. We don’t need someone doing that full time yet, so instead I hire out to people who are experts, have lots of other customers, and will charge me accordingly.

Sometimes we hang on to ‘Scrappy’ out of pride, because we think frugality is a sign of good execution, or we simply overlook opportunities to optimize. There are things in your business today that could be exponentially more efficient if you and your team had the right tools.

Sometimes they won’t make economic or logistical sense, but take a close look. When you compare the cost of the ideal tool with the opportunity cost of lost time or efficiency, you might be surprised. After all, these tools and services weren’t priced in a vacuum.

If your engineers spend 15% of their time doing QA, but you can you can spend 5% of your payroll to have someone do it full time, you’re ahead (and you can ship 15% more product). Spending is hard, especially in a startup, but sometimes it’s the right move.

I set a reminder each weekend to look for ways I can improve my efficiencies. I’d love to hear some ways you’ve done the same.