3 steps to becoming a smarter start-up

I’ve written before about rigidity in business. And how it has the potential to seriously impact your entrepreneurial journey. But I also know that it can be a super tricky lesson to learn. We invest so much into our work, that it can feel impossible not to become attached to it.

But becoming attached to an idea can be dangerous. I’ve seen it happen time and time again (and I’ve been guilty of doing it myself !). Here’s what happens:

Linzi has an idea. She’s super pumped on it, and so rushes off to start work on it.

She invests money & time into the idea and keeps working away until she has a product that she’s stoked on. I always envision that this part of the process happens in a cave (stick with me on this !).

Linzi emerges from the cave months later (exhausted but excited to share her work with the world) and has the awful realisation that no one actually wants or needs her product.

Linzi returns to her cave, feeling insanely sorry for herself, and after some much needed TLC, gets to work on her next idea.

Gulp. This kind of thinking will get you into serious trouble. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that a lot of entrepreneurs follow this model, and after a couple of failed ideas, end up giving up on their dreams of running their own business.

They believe they’re not cut out for it. Or that their idea wasn’t good enough. Or that the market conditions were wrong.

But actually, it always come down to one single thing: They never validated their idea. They didn’t take the time to get to know their customers, and actually ask them what they want. It sounds crazy, but you’d be AMAZED how many entrepreneurs completely miss out this part.

So how can you make sure you don’t fall into this trap? Adopt a lean start-up mentality. Treat your business like a science experiment. Here are three simple ways to do it:

1. Get out of the building: Speak to real people about the problems you hope to solve. You need to understand their world view. You need to get an idea for what’s at stake for them if their problem isn’t solved. This means you’ll learn to identify problems worth solving and get a really good understanding of the issues they’re facing.

2. Get into the habit of actually ‘shipping’ your ideas: Think big, but start small. There’s a term used in the lean start-up world called MVP (minimum viable product). It means creating the simplest version of your idea (1.0 so to speak) and getting it out into the market. So for example, if your dream is to design a range of clothing, can you create one single t-shirt that showcases your skills & will allow you to test whether people will actually buy it. Developing an MVP means you reduce risk & accelerate learning.

3. Go back to the lab (not the cave !!): Once you’ve shipped an idea, delve deep into the feedback you’re getting. Keep talking to customers. Understand how you can improve your work and where you need to pivot. Remember to look at your work as if it were a science experiment. Failure doesn’t mean stopping altogether. Failure means an opportunity to learn & move in a new direction.

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better — Ralph Waldo Emerson

3 steps to becoming a smarter start-up March 24th, 2015Linzi

Originally published at www.helloglowcoaching.com on March 24, 2015.