Running your business the lean startup way is a good way to save money, shorten the amount of time you spend on product development, and ensure that your business is running as efficiently as possible.
If that sounds good to you, but you don’t know where to start read on for everything you need to know about running a lean startup successfully.
What is a lean startup?
A lean startup is basically a business that maximizes value by minimizing the amount of waste. When you run a lean startup, your main focus should be on improving your processes so you can get rid of any waste, maximize your company’s productivity levels and deliver more value to the customer.
How do you run a lean startup?
By being as economical and efficient as you can. Below you will find some important aspects of running your startup that will enable you to meet your lean business goals…
Ensure everyone is on the same page
One of the most basic things you need to do when running lean startup is to ensure that everyone is on the same page. If everyone from the interns to the CEO knows the explicit aims of the startup, what the main goals, targets, and philosophies are, then it will be much easier for everyone to work together in harmony, which means there will be less wasted time, a greater level of efficiency and more positive results overall.
A big part of the lean startup philosophy is about doing what you can do uniquely. If your business model is exactly the same as every other company in your niche then you are doing it wrong. You need to find something that makes you unique because that is what will attract customers to you and enable you to build a successful business as quickly as possible.
Do customer research
Customer research is a vital part of running a successful lean startup. BTY identifying exactly what your target audiences does and does not want, you can more easily create the kinds of products and services that will sell without wasting time on features that no one will use, or even worse, going in blindly and creating an untested product that you can’t even be sure there is a market for.
A Lean business uses strategies like testing and pair programming to ensure quality in the process. Rather than checking for quality at the end of a process, it is built-in as early as possible as an ongoing focus throughout.
Focus on creating an MPV
A minimal value product (MPV) is a product that has enough interesting features that it will appeal to early adopters. Building such a product is important as a lean startup because it will enable you to build your customer base more quickly and more efficiently. Once you’ve hooked the early adopters with a unique feature or two, they will start spreading the word and you will start building up a decent customer base in a far more efficient way than you would with a standard product that you have to fight to get anyone interested in initially.
If you are running a lean startup and you aren’t gathering data, then quite simply, you are doing it wrong. A lean company is all about minimizing waste, but it is pretty impossible to identify where your company is being wasteful if you do not have any data to look at. Collect data on all of your processes and analyze it regularly. If the data shows that something is not working, then take steps to change that.
The lean startup philosophy is very big on outsourcing. This is because you can often achieve a lot more with fewer resources if you outsource things like supply chain logistics to a third-party company that is set up to handle them as efficiently as possible. Your business should focus on doing the things you do well, whether they be product development or sales and marketing, and outsource the rest to companies who are best set up to deliver them. If outsourcing a particular process will save your company time and money, then it is almost certainly a good idea to do so, if not, keep it in-house but keep reviewing.
As the owner of a lean startup, it is really vital that you keep learning and growing as a business owner. You should always be reading: always checking the competition; always staying up to date with the latest industry technology so that you can keep making your business more efficient. You should also be encouraging your employees to do the same because the more knowledgeable you are as a team, the more efficiently you will be able to run your company as a team too.
Use a just-in-time system
A just-in-time system is when you wait until the last possible moment to make a decision. This might seem like a bad way to run a business because you will never know what your next move is going to be but actually, it can be a really good way to avoid waste. If you wait until the last possible moment to decide what you are going to do, you can be sure that you always have the latest information to act on which helps to make your business more agile overall.
It should go without saying, that if you want to run a lean startup, you need to ensure that you are using all of the technology available to you. From A/B testing that will enable you to quickly and effectively improve your products for greater customer satisfaction to artificial intelligence chatbots that will help you to streamline your customer service, and of course, automated accounting software that will help to make short work of your business finances now and in the future, there are few things that tech cannot help you achieve more quickly, and investing in them will obviously make your company more agile as a result.
Invest in the cloud
Investing in cloud technology is a biggie that will make your life easier as a lean startup. It will ensure that you and all of your employees have access to the infrastructure required to run your company wherever you may be, which means, not only can you save money and increase efficiency by allowing remote working, but you can also minimize downtime due to tech failures in the office. Oh, and obviously, you will not need nearly as much IT infrastructure if you have everything in the cloud together, which means you can run your office more leanly too.
Hire a virtual assistant
If you are looking to run a lean startup on a tight budget, it is fair to say that a good virtual assistant can help you with that at a much more affordable price than hiring an in-person assistant. However, the main benefit of hiring virtual assistants is that they typically work on a freelance basis, which means you can use them more at busy times, such as tax time, and less often when your business is going through a more fallow period.
Spend more time networking
When you’re trying to run a lean company, you might think that networking is a waste of time and efficiency and that your energies would be better invested elsewhere. However, in business, networking is and knowing the right people is often just as important as having a good business. So, use some of the time you have saved by being as efficient as possible to network in your industry, and related industries if you want to set yourself up for the best chance of future success.
Treat everyone right
Last, but definitely not least, when running a lean business, it is really important that you don’t forget the people who work for you. Your employees are the backbone of your business and treating them well is not only the right thing to do, but it will also help your business to be more efficient too. Why? Because happy employees are more productive employees. They are also more creative employees and more loyal employees, so in your quest to be ever more agile, don’t be tempted to hurt your employees or work them too hard, in the process. The employees you treat well will stick with you; they will share your vision, and they will help your company to be the best possible company it can be. It really is that simple.
Running a lean startup is ideal for new businesses that have a tight budget but a lot of vision. The more efficient you can make your company, the less you will need to spend overall and the sooner you will be able to build up a loyal customer base. That being said, you need to ensure that you are running your lean business as effectively as possible, and the above tips will help you to do that. Good luck.