There are two important aspects when talking about lean start-ups. It’s all about avoiding strategies and long-term plans that are overly detailed and rigid in favour of something a bit freer, a bit more adaptable and flexible (leading to more efficiency and success). The other important aspect, which allows for such flexibility, is continual and regular tracking, measurements, and feedback.
Namely, to succeed in business, you need to of course have clear goals and a good plan. However, no matter what field of expertise you find yourself in, know that in the modern world things are continually changing and shifting. This means that adaptability, while always important, is a key factor for any business. Lean business plans are perfect for the modern age. Below you have some key elements that are relevant to building a lean business plan.
Strategy and focus
First, you need to understand what your strategy and focus actually are. Know that your strategy is not supposed to be a detailed plan, but rather, a concept, an idea for you to strive towards. It’s how you want to approach the market, what you expect from your company, understanding what success means to you. You know your destination, but you do not go too much into detail on how you’re gonna get there.
Things like S.M.A.R.T. goals, for example, are a great way to get you started, and to figure out what you actually want. However, for lean marketing, you just need to keep the big picture in mind at all times, and focus on that. The little things are to be handled on a day to day basis.
Flexibility and delegation
The adaptability of lean business plans lies in the fact that nothing is scheduled too far in advance. As we’ve mentioned earlier, goals and focus points need to be clear at all times, but the day to day workload can change at a moment’s notice. You may wish to, for example, market your company in a certain way. However, with lean business plans you have room to abandon this idea at a drop of the hat if you believe that doing so is useful. Unlike regular plans, this will not cause a domino effect of everything falling apart. Rather, you’re safe and sound. Remember – there is stability in flexibility.
Things can and will always change. If needed, delegate certain aspects of tweaking to an employee, leaving you room to focus on other things. You can also hire the services of a specialized company, like the professionals at MAUS Business Systems, for example. The point here is to tweak things on the move, but also to delegate the task properly so as to be as efficient as possible.
Course correction and tracking
When you figure out your key goals and concepts, you must track your achievements on a daily or weekly basis. Whether this is present in outreach, units sold, people contacted… It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you always know where you stand, and where you should go.
And on the topic of where you should go, course correction is there to keep you on the path. By reviewing your daily and weekly activities regularly, you will be able to know just how effective you you are. This allows you to change course at a moment’s notice, and shift your activities.
For example, you may have set a very concrete goal, of achieving an X amount of sales in six months, following this kind of system. After 3 months you’ve noticed that you are not even a third of the way there. You noticed this by contextually tracking your sales. This means that you should switch to something else.
Stick to notes, stay light
You want to stay light with lean business plans. Have a clear goal and quick bullet points on how to get there. Any detailed plans are cumbersome and don’t give you the flexibility you want. Sure, you can dress things up when presenting your work to business partners or potential clients, and give them as many details as they want. Sometimes you just need to make a good impression, since those unfamiliar with lean business planning will think it’s frivolous or even lazy. So, present them with clear goals, show them what you’re doing now, and go into detail on what you have accomplished, but mum’s the word for the future.
Lean business plans are the plans of the future. They incorporate the most important and difficult part of modern business into their core – flexibility. The business world is constantly changing and evolving, and I order to come out on top you need to adapt. With lean business plans you can achieve just that. These plans require that you only have clear goals, and that you regularly review and track your performance. Everything else can and should be handled on the go.
Chloe Smith is a business consultant and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success. When she’s not working, she’s probably somewhere cuddled up with a good book, and a cup of lemongrass tea (or more honestly binge-watching the newest Netflix hit show).