I recently read, in an article highlighting books every entrepreneur should read, that while “staying lean” continues to lose its sexiness as we climb out of the 2008 recession it is no less useful or important today.
We love the idea of “hustling.” Keeping our full time paying jobs while working on 2Shoes during our time off has allowed us to stay financially lean and focus on building a product our customers want and need. It’s kept us from giving away ownership of our business and it keeps us hungry. Below are 3 reasons why staying lean isn’t just a recession-induced fad and why introducing this mindset can breathe new life into companies, both old and new:
Directs you towards the right decisions: Staying lean allows you to release a product that may be far from finished, gather feedback from customers, and make changes where they are needed. It allows you to maintain a flexibility and adaptiveness that others just can’t have. For example, it has allowed us here at 2Shoes to focus all of our time and efforts on building a product that our customers need. We haven’t had to worry about meeting monthly quotas or hitting certain financial benchmarks to appease our investors. Staying lean has allowed us the freedom to build the product that we should and not just the one that we can.
Fosters innovation: Staying lean fosters innovation in several ways. One way is by removing the external benchmarks that may have been set by large investors or even other employees that may be present in less lean startups. Having the ability to fail, and fail really fast, allows you to continuously test, launch, and better design your product. Following this lean approach also sets a fire under you. Nothing induces learning and innovation quite like running out of money in a few months!
You don’t owe anyone: To many of us this is the best perk to staying lean. Having a large number of investors, who may own equity in your business, can create all sorts of problems and can also create an environment that stifles innovation. But at a very basic level number 3 is obvious, why owe more people and lose equity in your business if you can not owe money and keep your equity? It may mean that you have to hustle a bit more and push the limits of balancing a full time job and your startup but it has the potential to pay huge dividends in the future!
We love the idea of staying lean and agree that it’s not a “recession-induced fad” that has no place in a startup world flush with cash. In fact we think it’s even more important now! There’s huge benefit in not getting comfortable, staying “hungry” and motivated. In fact, we would argue that the startup world is anything but comfortable! If you’re interested in diving more into the lean methods make sure to check out The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Ries is a leader in the Lean Method and the book has some incredible insight into how these techniques can be applied to companies of all sizes!