You’ve probably heard about the dismal failure rate of new startups. Research says that roughly 8 out of 10 people who start new businesses fail within the first 18 months. Not too encouraging, is it? But look on the bright side. There are plenty of success stories out there.
Everyone starts with a vision: the opportunity to turn something they’re passionate about into a business, the chance to change the world, the freedom of becoming their own boss . . . to name just a few. Keeping your dream alive no matter what the odds is probably the single most effective way to succeed. But you can’t quantify or measure the kind of tacit knowledge that goes into making it all work. Oftentimes, success just comes down to people doing more things right than they do wrong. And that raises another point . . . .
We often hear all about the reasons why startups fail. Well, let’s turn that idea on its head and run through some of the strategies about what it takes to make a startup succeed. This gives us a much better psychological advantage and keeps us in a mindset that is positive rather than defeatist.
Go Lean: The “Lean Startup” strategy has emerged in recent years as a refreshing alternative to the traditional approach to building new business ventures. The focus of the Lean approach is to help startups run in a more efficient, customer-driven, and intuitive way while saving time and money. According to the Lean Startup website, “The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.” Instead of writing a business plan at your desk and pouring tons of time and money into a product that has little guarantee of success, the Lean approach goes right to the question of how to do more with less and get your product out the door as fast as possible.
Process vs. Product:Different personality types lean towards different sides of the spectrum. Some folks get lost in “the process” while others are more pragmatic and focus on outcomes. Nothing against process folks, but the universe rewards those who deliver products. Revenue flows from products, not processes. At the same time, there is also a happy balance between product and process. You’ll need clearly defined processes to ensure your business and projects are running in a streamlined, efficient, organized and professional manner.
Tools & Resources:Let’s face it, technology has dramatically transformed the way we work. And in order to work most efficiently, you must be clued into the great selection of cheap or free online tools available today for the digital business. Kudos to zero2illo.com and their excellent article, 101 Guide to Running A Lean & Agile Business, for providing this overview:
Google Apps for a suite of tools such as email, calendar, online word processing/spreadsheets/presentations, and more.
Evernote for clipping, storing and organizing your resources and snippets of information (doesn’t have to be digital – snap photos to digitalize and upload online).
Be a DIYer and Control Assets:Innovation is a big buzzword today. Quite simply, innovation is about taking existing processes and transforming them into creative new possibilities. When it comes to a startup, you don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” or “boil the ocean” as they say. Part of the idea of bootstrapping your business is to limit reliance on external finances so you retain more control and focus on customers instead of investors. Leverage your own skill sets and also your social networks. You can learn to revise your own website and save costs. Jump on Twitter and Facebook and learn the ropes of basic social marketing. Learning by doing will make your business more agile and cost efficient.
Preserving Your Mindset: Becoming a successful startup owner in today’s digital global economy requires, quite frankly, a different mindset than was required just 5 years ago. Technology is changing so rapidly and is, now more than ever, a key differentiator in all lines of the business cycle. Staying lean and agile and keeping eyes and ears open to the emerging and disruptive changes in the market place requires insight, open-mindedness, quick thinking, and decisiveness in order to pivot and make adjustments when necessary.