How to use startup practices in your life to get the right things done

Let’s get Personal

Almost everything in life starts small. When you try anything new the best is to break it in small parts. Smaller steps to practice and master before making it more complex and bigger.

But bigger is not always better. Is a strategy that works well for some environments like whales but it didn’t for many others. Like 90% of marsupials in Australia that we humans most likely help to become extinct.

Bigger companies are not always better. It is easy to get impressed by big numbers, employees, sales, buildings, but at the end of the day — each sale is a discrete moment. That decision has to be made by an individual that can be influenced in a number of ways. Many of these new ways are social, thus closer to other individuals than big corporations.

They become big conglomerates to take advantage of economies of scale. Working together in an assembly line was more productive than the artisan’s workshops. The big capital financed the big industries. But now that has changed. All resources are available as a service. A single maker — a small team or even an individual- can produce and sell worldwide without any need for infrastructure.

Big has more means that small, we know, but it also creates lots of complexity, bureaucracy and sluggishness. The world is moving at exponential speed and these new dinosaurs are not always better equipped to survive. Innovation is happening outside of well funded corporate research labs. Many enterprises are now stepping up open calls for innovation and startup programs. They aim to tap into the agile processes that make these newborns not only outpace bigger competitors but disrupt industries.

There are some practices, attitudes, processes and tools that set the agile style for the startup’s success.

An essential part of them can be applied at a personal level. Not only to become yourself an independent professional, freelance or startup- a maker. But to use it for your professional life and maybe some of your personal habits.

We are going to see some of these practises to emulate successful startups.

The practical approach HOW TO market Validate yourself

The most important reason to act like a Startup is that you will take it personally.

Business is personal. Is not being proud or feel part of the company and the team — that is great- however, we are talking about extreme ownership- coming from deep inside you.

There is where the thinking outside the box and the -whatever it takes- mentality happens.

That is the mentality of each startup, born to fight against all the odds and the Goliaths in their sector.

And the ones that live it this way win.

That is one of the most valuable mindsets to use in life and in sales.

Sales is a one to one

Most crucial moments in life you are on your own. Your exams, the work you produce and when you learn.Even if you are part of an organisation you have to get your job done.

When you sell you are on your own. The crucial moment is you in front of a customer.

You are transmitting something to a single person at a time. Even if you are presenting to a large audience, commenting on social media or recording a video. Each recipient will consume your message by themselves.

And that is good because in one to one you can win anyone — even a large corporation.

When you sell you are on your own-and that is good because in one to one you can win anyone

So you don’t have to be scared or insecure because your competition is bigger. They are also humans, with problems, different experiences and often a lack of time or focus. And that can be your advantage.

If you are on your own or with a small startup you are actually in a better position than most of your bigger enterprise counterparts. You are closer to the ground. To be authentic as a person. The trend in business is about being personal. We will se some strategies to play this for our advantage.

Market Validation for everything

Let´s see how to emulate some of the practises that allow successful startups to grow.

The first thing a startup does is to validate its value proposition in the market.

You can apply that to yourself for -actually- most things you do. You can “productise “ your professional persona, how your value proposition is going to appeal to your markets — employers, customers, even girlfriends …

You have to Market Validate your copy (aka headline), your web presence (aka profile), your content assets (aka comments and shares) and of course your prospecting (aka networking).

Validation means experiment. Create a hypothesis ie- this value proposition is interesting for this group of customers.

Give it a try to test it with your market. It is good and gets traction? improve it and expand it to other potential customers. If not, move on. You should keep iterating, trying to reduce the time to test new ideas, proposals, jobs or potential customers. That’s how startups get better, in small incremental validations.

Laser Focus

We live in a headlines-society and most people ( including me ) have some sort of ADD — attention deficit disorder.

If you start mumbling about -nothing really- you will lose them.

The elevator pitch- the 2-minute statement about your startup is one of the most difficult exercises. I have been in countless startup gatherings practising my pitch and listening to hundreds of others. Most CEOs do it wrong in the beginning ( again including me). Even experienced ones. And is not about technical founders vs marketing founders. It requires practice and fine tunning- market validation — a lot of tuning. It is hard because you don’t know what your startup sound stands for. What is the most valuable application of your features? You are chasing a moving target. You are building a product that can have many applications for many different people.

But you have to choose — choose your targets -who is that you want to influence and what is one of the most important takeaways.

And that’s it. Just do it. There is not a magic formula. As an individual you have to do the same, choose what you stand for in this particular moment for this specific opportunity that you are chasing and focus. Be laser focus.

Reduce friction

Again in a busy society is paramount to make it easy for people.

They will always choose the path of less resistance. Most of the time that means do nothing. No funding, not buying. No action is taken = wasted time = running out of time.

So here are a few practices from web products;

- Make it Simple. Life is complex but your message /your value/ your proposal should not be.

- Make it obvious. What is the next action?Tell me what you want me to do clearly.

- Make it irresistible. A not brainer -so much for so little, I can not miss it

- Make it easy to swallow. Easy next step. Free trial, just a call, share it with friends. Don’t ask them to marry you on the first date

- Make them want more. Give them massive value, help as much as you can for free — if they get hooked to you or your product, they will come for more and it will pay back.

Develop your personal brand- Your tone of voice

This might seem a little overkill or too much work to some — actually including some startup

But is an essential part of the success and is not something to be done overnight.

It’s a mentality shift to create the habit needed to build your professional identity for the long run. It is about developing your personal brand. But not the “ advertisement type of brand”. Is not about subtle differences in the colour or the font of your logo.

Is about your authenticity, about who you are. What is your style?

If you are yourself it will be unique. Don’t copy. There is no right or wrong, well, except if you are boring ( just joking..) The worst — but quite common — is to pretend. Pretend to be bigger because you are ashamed that the customer will think you are small. Pretending to be very experienced talking business like jargon it will make you sound just not natural, and boring.

The only sensible way to compete in crowded markets is by developing a brand. An image of what you stand for, what you are. Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. And in more practical terms it will help hugely to make people pay attention to you in social media

By the way, a brand is not a name. Nobody gives a s**t about the name of your startup. What matters is the utility you provide. Do not spend any money or time buying expensive domains, logos etc… You can design them in minutes almost for free with A.I tools and have a domain for less than $1. The same goes for your web site, even Wordpress is too much to start with. Simplify, focus on the essentials — your message and who is interested in it.

Startups Get Things Done

We have discussed how to apply the mentality and best practices from startups to your own professional and personal life

So here the last take away from how startups work; is about getting things done.

Successful startups are hustlers and hackers — they find ways around or use any workaround to get shit done. They have the will and they find their ways.

The idea behind each successful startup up is to fill a market gap. We too should aim to find where our experiences and skills make us unique.

Is not about grow bigger, earning more but be more agile, more efficient in what we do.

We all have access to the same technology and tools. The success depends on our own capabilities to get things done, in the way we deliver them — our style /design and how we reach the market — our brand.

The over-abundance of information, tools, possibilities affect us all. The challenge of the future will be to handle the ultra- availability of resources to be able to focus. To ship products, deliver proposals, designs or any other task we set to accomplish.

The ultimate lesson we may borrow from the Startups is their very essence, of what means to be Startup- by definition- create new things. Is not just about doing things , working hard. You can be very busy working hard in a million things- but not advancing much.

Is about getting the things that matter done. You need to think high and big to set the vision and look down to execute the details of each task, at the same time.

This is both a mentality and an ability. A habit that we should learn and force ourselves into it, to keep the focus.

There are a thousand reasons why a startup may fail. But none is worth as an excuse.

You have your destiny in your hands. That’s is a privilege. Take the opportunity. Just get it done. Succeed.

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