And it’s working.
Given the popularity of growth hacking and remote work, the writing is on the wall that it is indeed possible to start a business without a bloated budget.
Of course, the question remains: what separates the lean startups that fail from those which succeed? Is the concept of low-to-no budget merely a pipe dream for newbie business owners?
Embracing the ideology of a lean startup is rooted in a mentality shift, requiring business owners to ask how far they can go on their own dime. If you’re looking to start the leanest company possible in 2017, consider the following tips as cornerstones toward doing so.
Start With the Essentials
Now, the best lean startups are also smart startups. That is, they don’t hurt their potential for growth for the sake of being thrifty. Despite popular belief, there are some must-do’s that require some initial capital. Regardless, the following investments are must-haves that will ensure your business’ survival for the long haul:
- Legal protection for your new business: whether you’re a new business owner forming an LLC or want to protect yourself from potential lawsuits in the future, legal protection is a need (and not a “want”)
- Somewhere to work: swift home offices and coffee shops are fair game as long as you have somewhere you can get down to business on a consistent basis
- A site for your projects and portfolio: while free platforms can certainly help boast your accomplishments, having a central hub of your business where clients can reach out is an expectation for any startup
Forego the Bells and Whistles
Don’t worry about investing in three-piece suits and fancy lunches as means of swooning clients and making yourself look larger than life. If Mark Zuckerberg taught us anything from his hoodie and flip-flop style, it’s that appearances are overrated for modern entrepreneurs. Sometimes what you know and what you’ve done ultimately trumps what you look like on the surface.
Digital Products > Physical Products
Lean startups focus on digital products versus physical products that incur pricey processing fees and shipping costs.
Selling software and informational products such as a e-books and digital courses is ideal for today’s business owners. Cheap to produce and promote, digital education is booming right now. Regardless of your industry, always prioritize easy ecommerce (think: starting a dropshipping business) versus relying on your own physical inventory.
Harness the Power of Free Platforms
From Google Analytics and Skype to WordPress plug-ins and productivity platforms such Trello, the essential tools to running your business are ultimately free. Before you spend a cent on ads, for example, consider the networking potential of sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You can even forego a traditional blog through a publishing giant such as Medium.
In other words, think twice before paying for platforms or advertising when there’s so much potential in what’s free.
Lean startups have become the norm for today’s business owners. Rather than blow out your budget or punch above your weight, make it a priority to grow your business by spending less, not more.