The starting point of living well is earning well. Still, earning well is not sustainable in the face of the forces of continual disruption and also in being constrained in job cubicles. Declaring your independence won’t be initiated without being in control of your own economy. That’s why freedom-seekers embark on the start-up route as opposed to the security-lovers who cling to the job route. But setting out for this joyful, yet difficult, journey of the start-up path entails you to be better equipped with the right tools for firstly surviving in this today’s external threats. To regain control your own life, you need to be aware as well as focused. Aware of the external context and focused and intent on developing the skills required for adapting to the new realities.
The terrifying reality of the failure rate of startups makes the aspiring entrepreneurs withhold from starting their own business. There are more than 150 million startups in the world today with 50 million new ones launching every year. On average, there are 137,000 startups emerging every day. That’s the good news of the entrepreneurial spirit that sweeps the planet. But, the bad news is, according to recent statistics: at least 40 percent of these startups are out of business by the end of the first year. Even worse, those who survive the first year; 80 percent of them, have failed within the first five years.
To survive this massive massacre of the failing startups needs a deliberate shift from product-orientation to customer-attentiveness. Stop falling in love with your invention because at the end of the day customers are the source of your being alive. Therefore, have face-to-face interviews with your customers. Understand their problems; listen to their insights about how these problems can be solved. Dig deeper into their insights and discover in the process their current behaviors and mental models. Be aware of falling into the trap of talking too much, selling so soon, and listening too little.
Ever since the publication of the best-selling business book The Lean Start-up in the year 2011 by Eric Ries, the book was considered by entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide as the book of the decade. Ries’s philosophy is centered on testing your ideas before launching your product. Testing must be done through getting feedback from potential customers. Most products fail because of blindly wasting time and money on unknown customers. Ries proposes startups with creating an MVP – Minimal Viable Product – where the start-up can get their customers’ feedback before jeopardize launching a product they may not want.
The Lean method rests largely on three key principles. Firstly, is to let go of the business conventional wisdom of creating a business plan. Such a plan is a document written in isolation at a desk with the purpose of attracting investors rather than customers.
Secondly, instead of fantasizing and planning, entrepreneurs need to test their hypotheses through engaging with their potential customers. This is how value can be created. And thirdly, practicing agile development as a result of customers’ responsiveness to the MVP. This helps the entrepreneur make adjustments or even eliminate of the ideas that don’t help.
To be in control of your own economy is to carve out your entrepreneurial route. You need to develop the skills of awareness and focus. Awareness of the external context that prevents you from taking charge and focus on the things you are capable of doing to build and grow your business.