Starting a business sounds like the perfect solution to a lot of people. This is because of the simple ideas that you can gain control of your time and there will truly be no cap on your earning potential. This really appeals to people who are burned out or just unsatisfied with the corporate world.
While entrepreneurship may be a viable option, the reality of the process brings a certain set of challenges to the forefront that you may not have considered. A few obvious examples include getting the money together to get the business going, finding customers or clients, and making sales. These are challenges that everyone must face and that no one can avoid.
Have you been considering the idea of starting up your own business for the new year?
If so, congratulations whether it’s a side hustle or the full-blown leap! Long live the disruptors! Now it’s time to invest in your startup, and if you are part of the majority, you probably don’t have a surplus of cash to do this with. Am I correct in my assumption here?
Welcome to the “lean” startup experience.
This is the place that you will learn to do more with less and get more creative than you ever have before. Relationships of all kinds will be tested and relied upon in a much more frequent and intense level than you have ever seen previously.
Do you still want to do this? Ok, let’s go!
I feel like pulling from my own experiences is the best way for me to share some great knowledge with all of you and hopefully, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that I encountered early on.
Here are 5 tips that I have for you to ensure the launch of your lean startup:
Tip #1: Do not purchase anything that is not absolutely necessary!
I sure am guilty of this one, but it can and will put you into a bad spot quicker than anything else. Avoid the temptation of buying new technology, office furniture, programs, apps, etc. unless they are critical for the business to function. You do not want to burn through your cash and take on payments with little to no money coming in because you will put your company into a full blown “survival” mode before it even gets off of the ground. The example that comes to my mind is the lawn mowing companies that have a brand new truck, trailer, and mower before they have any business. I used to work in the green industry and I cannot keep track of how many guys just like this were in and out of business in the same season. Once those payments starting coming in for all of the new equipment, reality….and repositions set it.
Use what you have, borrow, and buy used as an alternative to taking on a lot of debt with buying things new. Cash is always king too, so use that when it’s an option. This tip is so important that it is smart to revisit it regularly to keep your business as lean as you can. Unnecessary spending is never going to be beneficial to you.
Tip #2: Focus on marketing and selling, every day!
Marketing is making others aware that you have something to sell and selling is actively pursuing the customers yourself. The biggest mistake that startups make is solely relying on marketing or incoming leads and (hopefully) sales. What is your plan if they don’t come? Perhaps you are sitting on a massive reserve of cash, or perhaps not. Doesn’t it make more sense to also sell your products or services in a more proactive manner? Phone calls, emails, social media, walking into business establishments and speaking to potential customers face to face will never get old. If your target customer or client extends beyond your local area, don’t be afraid to do some video calls as well. This is a great way to connect with people globally and it’s free through Skype, as long as they also have a free account.
Tip #3: Be willing to put the hours in!
When you first launch a business there is a lot to do and chances are that you will be doing a lot or all of the work. Be willing to work long and hard and do whatever it takes to ensure your success. There is nothing more irritating to me than to see someone who refuses to work nights or weekends with their brand new grind. The real frustration begins when they cannot figure out why nothing is happening for them. Consistent effort over time will yield results. Effort alone won’t make you successful, but it is a key ingredient to the winning formula. Want to sleep in an extra hour? Get up anyway and get to work. Need a sick day? Push through it and pursue forward progress. A man walked on the moon people, so quit telling yourself all of the reasons why you can’t make this work!
“Reading is good, action is better”~ Eric Ries from The Lean Startup
Tip #4: Barter your services for the services of others!
This is a great tip that I feel is too often overlooked or flat out ignored. Reach out to other individuals and businesses that have something that you need and figure out a way to get it by trading a product or service of your own. The beauty of this is that it’s two sided. For one, you have an opportunity to build new a business relationship which is never a bad thing. The second thing is that you may be able to do so with little or no cost to you. It depends on your specific business and what you offer. Need a recommendation, introduction, testimonial, or some help with your website? These are the perfect bartering services that all startups need anyways.
Tip #5: Surround yourself with the right people!
This is a lesson that is learned after experiencing some level of pain from not listening to the right people. You need to associate yourself with people who support, challenge, and uplift you otherwise they will just tear you down. I have said this many times before and I am going to say it again now. If someone has never successfully managed a garage sale, don’t ask them for business advice. If someone tells you all of the reasons why you cannot do something, they are of no use to you in business. I am not suggesting that you end relationships, but I am telling you to be intelligent about who you choose to address certain topics with. As you start to build your own team, work hard on selecting people with valuable skill sets that are different than your own who also embrace your vision. The people that work on business with you have the power to make or break everything.
Launching a lean startup is the reality that most entrepreneurs face because of their limited access to funds. These tips were assembled to increase your chances of surviving your own launch. Remember, that Intentionally Inspirational will be with you every step of the way and we have a ton of content for you to read and listen to when you need some motivation or actionable steps.
Have some thoughts or opinions on my list? Let’s hear about it in the comments my loyal readers!
In the book “The Lean Machine: How Harley-Davidson Drove Top-Line Growth and Profitability with Revolutionary Lean Product Development” former Harley-Davidson executive Dantar Oosterwal offers an exclusive look at how Harley-Davidson was able to adapt in an ever-changing world to stay on top and stay in existence. In The Lean Machine, readers learn about Harley-Davidson’s secret weapon and go-to formula for outstanding success: Knowledge-Based Product Development.