When you’re starting and running a small business, every minute counts. Slack, which is easy to set up and intuitive to learn, is a tool that makes it simple to connect with employees and clients, manage daily tasks, and keep operations running smoothly. As a solutions engineer at Slack, I work with founders and side hustlers alike looking to tap into the platform to streamline work.
To gather some effective productivity tricks for growing businesses, I recently had a chance to speak with three small-business owners:
- Productivity expert and entrepreneur Ali Abdaal is a doctor-turned-entrepreneur who’s been building up his YouTube channel for the past six years and has more than 4.5 million followers
- Former filmmaker and poet Dan Lichtenberg founded Slow Clap Productions to tell authentic brand stories via video
- Laszlo Korsos grew up in an entrepreneurial family and recently received Slack’s Visionary of the Year Award for his work as the co-founder and president of HeadRace, a hiring network platform
Refreshingly, none of their ideas about being more productive included anything about working harder or longer hours. Instead, they mentioned Slack as a popular way to enable trust and transparency from anywhere, and how the simple addition of a desk treadmill can increase your energy on the busiest of days.
Below are their four tips for anyone—entrepreneur or not—to get the most out of every minute.
Tip 1: Start strong and with purpose
Abdaal understands that a new business venture can seem immensely challenging, but the first step is often as simple as validating your idea. To do this, you can give away something for free, like a PDF on how to gain muscle (if you’re opening a personal training studio), or a free Zoom webinar about taxes (if you’re in accounting). If people don’t download or want your free product, the idea likely won’t gain traction in a paid model.
Lichtenberg encourages you to understand your “why” and make sure it’s compelling. This way, you’ll always have enough motivation to fuel you through the inevitably frustrating moments that are a part of running a small business.
Korsos says most people create a product first and then check in with customers about what they need. But the harder thing is actually more productive: Talk to the customers first, understand their needs, make sure there’s value there, and then create the product.
Tip 2: Get your people, tools and files together in one spot
Slack channels are an ideal hub for small businesses, bringing people and information together in a central location. Channels give everyone access to the right insights at the right time, providing immediate context to every situation, and allowing newcomers to get up to speed quickly. You can even spin up a Slack huddle to chat through projects and evolving needs in real time.
At HeadRace, Korsos has channels for
#product. Whenever anyone has something to share, they add it to the relevant Slack channel. Everyone can catch up when they have time, instead of interrupting deep work. (I always find it helpful to set your notification settings to protect your non-working hours!) When Korsos’s team is brainstorming for marketing campaigns, they peruse an organic repository of ideas in Slack.
One of Lichtenberg’s favorites is the
#praise channel, where the team posts positive feedback and notes from clients. This creates a sense of camaraderie and showcases all manner of strengths, from careful project planning to flawless video execution. Abdaal has a similar channel,
#pleasantries, where the team shares the kinds of emails and YouTube comments that make running your own business worthwhile. Everyone quickly and easily shows support with emoji.
Tip 3: Tap into AI to propel your small business
Some employees are apprehensive about technology and AI “taking” their jobs, but Korsos stresses that we should simply expect things to shift. Instead of getting bogged down with the tedious, monotonous tasks that sap our time and resources, we can pass them off to AI, freeing our people to focus on more creative work.
Lichtenberg agrees that with the right tools, he can increase his 10 full-time employees’ productivity tenfold, empowering them to compete with companies with upward of 60 crew members. Whether they’re spinning up a Slack channel to ensure that they’re on the same page about a shoot or sharing briefs with the Google Docs integration, they can align and move forward together.
At Slack, we’re looking forward to all the productivity hacks that generative AI can bring. Users can start by integrating their language model of choice via our open extensible platform, whether they use partner-built apps like Anthropic’s Claude or their own custom app. We’re also actively evaluating native functionalities to bring into Slack that will help our customers be more productive.
Tip 4: Use Slack Connect to unify teammates, clients and partners
Lichtenberg says an intuitive way to scale Slow Clap Productions is with Slack Connect, which extends the functionality of Slack to external partners, clients and vendors. He raves that Slack Connect gives you the ability to constantly communicate with clients, build authentic relationships and feel like you’re an in-house collaborator.
Korsos seconds that: With email SLAs, he says, people expect a response in 24 hours. But ultimately, if you get a Slack message from a customer, they know you’re more inclined to communicate as effectively as possible and solve problems right away.
It’s worth mentioning here that the Slack App Directory has thousands of apps that enable your teams and collaborators to streamline and simplify hundreds of tasks, from booking meetings and sharing documents to onboarding, analyzing data and more.
Bonus tip: Never underestimate the power of connecting in real life
Whenever Abdaal is in a new city or finds himself with some free time, he posts on Twitter to see who’s around and available for a meal. Even if they’re in a completely different industry, it can be extremely helpful and insightful to connect: In fact, Abdaal says that 100% of the “needle-moving impact” at his business has been the result of serendipitous conversations with other business owners.
However you choose to get your business off the ground, know that you’ve got a partner in productivity in Slack.