by Stu Minshew
On the theme of ‘maximizing BAM success factors’ we’ve invited guest authors to highlight what they consider key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. Previously we’ve covered ‘breaking through your growth ceiling’ for an established business. But what if you are a startup? What if you have a business idea and want to know how to maximize your success from the get-go? We asked entrepreneur and CO.STARTERS trainer Stu Minshew to share what he’s learned about maximizing startup success in this five part mini-series.
Part 1: Get Started Growing
Starting and growing a business is a calling from the Lord. If you ask anyone who has done it, they will tell you how exhilarating it can be, but also how it sometimes seems overwhelming and impossible. The truth is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, it always requires hustle and flexibility, but taking a few simple actions can equip you to overcome obstacles to starting and growing your business to a level of sustainability.
During this series, we will explore these steps, but before we get to those, we need to discuss a few foundational points.
Foundational Point 1: Startups & Small Businesses Have Different Needs
In 2016, The Bureau of Labor in the United States shows that about 50% of businesses make it five years, while only about 30% make it past the ten year mark. If this is the reality, then starting a business doesn’t look like such a good idea.
With all of the resources available to entrepreneurs, why do so many startup businesses fail? Here are two reasons we commonly see:
1. Running a business is hard work. We must acknowledge this and never shy away from it, but it is not the final word. Our God is bigger than this obstacle and as believers we are called to bring His creativity, order, and grace to the ends of the earth, including your startup’s footprint.
2. Most of the resources available to entrepreneurs were written for someone else. Making corporations and large established businesses more profitable has been the aim of many of the educational tools available to the entrepreneur. Most often these tools require a business education to understand them and a functional and profitable business to implement the changes.
No matter how efficient a bad model becomes, it is still a bad model.
More and more resources are becoming available for the startup, but those have trended to high growth startups. These resources often assume resources and time (think multiple rounds of million dollar funding) that the average small business entrepreneur doesn’t have. Realistically, most of the resources available to help you, the small business entrepreneur, are not actually for you.
As founders of startups and small business owners, we need to realize that we have different needs. We must always be small, agile, and flexible, but this is especially important as we begin. Many small businesses fail because they skip straight to the MBA educational emphasis, that teaches you to make a model more efficient, without ever testing the model in the first place. Remember this, no matter how efficient a bad model becomes, it is still a bad model. We need to focus less on being efficient and focus more on doing the right things. Do the due diligence by testing the assumptions inherent in your business model and being open to making adjustments as needed.
Asking the question, “How do I test the assumptions inherent in my model?” leads us to our next point.
Foundational Point 2: Find a Flexible Business Modelling Tool
If you have seriously looked at starting a business, you have likely been told to write a business plan. For a long time, this has been the primary tool used by entrepreneurs looking to start a business. While the traditional 30 page business plan has it uses, it doesn’t provide the flexibility required by the modern entrepreneur. This is primarily because, after weeks of writing, when you find a mistake, you must search through the entire document to find that section buried in the middle of the fourth paragraph on page nineteen. Okay, maybe you are willing to do that, but what if you realize that your whole business model will need to shift because of that change?
We need a more flexible model that can be updated in seconds and keeps all aspects of our businesses plan on one page, allowing us to instantly see how one change impacts the entire model.
Quickly organize your thoughts and assumptions about every aspect of your business in one location.
To meet this need, CO.STARTERS has created the CO.STARTERS Canvas, based on the Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder, which makes the business planning process more simple. This tool helps you quickly organize your thoughts and assumptions about every aspect of your business in one location. Then you can begin to identify, test, and adapt your model as you learn more about financial modelling or talk to potential customers.
With these foundational points explained, I plan to explore 4 more important steps that every small business owner/entrepreneur should be using on a daily basis. The Lord has given me much of this knowledge through trial and error in my own life, but I will also be pulling liberally (and with permission) from CO.STARTERS, whose programs I appreciate and have facilitated locally for the past few years.
With that said, in the next four posts, we will cover:
4. Start Small
The CO.STARTERS Canvas tool goes a long way toward helping you test your assumptions and determine if your business model is worth pursuing, before you begin looking for ways to make it more efficient.
CO.STARTERS has not only created the startup canvas but has also developed curriculum around it, and has been training a growing community of over 5,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners globally since 2013.
Be equipped for the startup journey: take the CO.STARTERS Canvas tool with you!
Download the CO.STARTERS Canvas for free here.
Stu Minshew is a facilitator for CO.STARTERS, a program that equips aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their passions into a sustainable and thriving endeavor. He is also co-founder of Mission Studio, created to help entrepreneurs explore the intersection of faith, business, and community. You can connect with him online at ExpatStartup.co, where he helps expats across the globe achieve freedom of lifestyle and create positive social impact through entrepreneurship. A serial entrepreneur, Stu has previously started three other businesses, two located in East Africa and one in the United States. He mentors, trains, and consults with entrepreneurs and startups globally.