Minimum Viable Business
Success isn’t defined by Twitter followers and Facebook likes.
In January I talked at length about starting the year with a determination to change to a life of freedom where you call the shots on a daily basis.
More recently I espoused the benefits of bringing a sense of order to your work; the main one being the way it helps you to get things done in a shorter time period and stops your living becoming your life. It seems that routine can be good even for freedom seekers; if taken in moderation of course!
In a similar way you can bring order to the process of doing business as an artisan or micro business owner, by creating a structure for how you do things. This is mostly about how you use your time most effectively and doesn’t need to be as rigid and uncool as it sounds.
I’ve found that thinking of myself as a river; meandering from one spot to another is a powerful productivity tool. Don’t get bogged down in stuff that you hate doing because it will sap your energy and kill your creativity, just flow around it and do something more interesting. If you can just go with the flow and do the things you feel best about doing; the things you are drawn to at any given time you will get more done and feel more energised most of the time.
There is one warning here though; make sure the task you are engaged in at any given time is perpetuating the river analogy and that you are actually taking your business in a forward direction; rivers look serene and aimless but they are completely focused on one purpose; getting to the sea, they never stop to back track.
Remember that procrastination and resistance will try to stop you at every turn. These can be cunningly disguised as seemingly worthwhile work activities such as designing business cards, making a website, buying office furniture, designing your office etc. If you have to do any of these do them fast and effectively. Get cards for free at vistaprint or your local print store, put up a simple wordpress blog and move on to creating the products or services you will sell and start to sell them by tracking down your ideal customers.
Spend as much of your time as possible creating your stuff and helping customers. You can’t completely avoid the boring business stuff, but you can minimise your involvement in it. You can create a Minimum Viable Business. Don’t learn book keeping, instead just keep a simple spreadsheet with what goes out and what comes in. Number each receipt for purchases, punch holes in them and put them in a file, same with invoices for sales made.
Fail quickly and learn from failure, but don’t give up too soon on projects. If you believe in what you are doing, give it at least 6 months of solid action and drive before deciding on a different plan. The death of many freedom bids is brought on by procrastination, giving up early and/or chopping and changing the plan.
Focus on one task at a time, switch off all other potential distractions.
Most importantly, concentrate on building a tribe of happy customers/enthusiasts who will recommend you. Make sure you have their contact details. Remember that the 10 happy souls who purchased your stuff are your tribe and the key to your future success. If each of them talks to 10 others, the word of your greatness will spread exponentially. 10,000 Twitter followers or 1 million likes on Facebook are something else entirely; don’t be distracted by social media, use it for your own ends, but don’t fool yourself about its worth or importance.
I’ve said many times that my aim in any new venture is to create an asset before moving on to another project. If you keep this at the front of your thoughts you wont go far wrong in your micro-business life. Most important right now is that you have a Minimum Viable Business…don’t waste time building an edifice that never makes a sale. Make a product and find a customer; avoid administration until this has been achieved.
Start a Minimum Viable Business today and test your theory.
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