Do you have a business idea but aren’t sure whether your target customers will buy into it? Or are you dreaming to become an entrepreneur but are worried of startup capital?
Well, if you’re in this situation, you’ll love the term “Lean Startup” – a business methodology developed by Eric Reis that focuses on starting small, cheap, and without delay. Anyone can use the approach. You can be a beautician and still implement lean principles in your business. If you’re a blogger, you can use the model to introduce your new product, dominate your niche, and rake a lot of money.
I’ll tell you how lean can leap your blogging business … but first, let’s get the scoop of how the idea came to be, and the amazing benefits you can reap when you use it in your blogging.
How the Lean Movement Started?
Back in 2004 at IMVU, Eric Ries was a chief technology officer. Together with one of his co-founders of There.com, Will Harvey, he created a 3D social networking product in 6 months. But, like his other previous failures, this digital product was also a failure: it was full of defects. It was flawed. It was “very boggy.”
Having realized the many failures he had under his belt, Reis thought that the failed avatar of his was the end of his career. It was at this moment that he began to immerse into deep research for what he explained as “the need to have a way of experimenting what to build in the first place.”
So, Reis started by studying lean manufacturing. This concept came from the Toyota Production System (TPS) in Japan. And it’s based on the production principles that consider any expenditure other than what’s adding value for customer as waste, and, therefore, must be eliminated.
Rather than spending huge amount of money, time, and resources to build a product into a fail, lean manufacturing spends little time, money, and resources to create valuable products that satisfy customers in every way.
The Lean Startup
Reis, having studied the lean manufacturing principles thoroughly, decided to come up with similar but slightly different philosophy – the Lean Startup.
Whereas the lean manufacturing focuses on developing products that customers want, Lean Startup focuses on the question of what customers need in the first place.
Reis based his methodology on the following major principles:
- Figure out a problem solving idea
- Develop a viable product
- Present the product to customers
- Measure and learn from customer feedback
- Business take-off
According to Reis, entrepreneurs can create a product (fast), show it to customers, learn from the customer feedback, and then either change or improve some of the product’s features until the customer is fully satisfied.
Benefits of Lean Startup
The Lean Startup doesn’t only inform entrepreneurs of any kinds – bloggers, freelance writers, newspaper vendors, pure water sellers – how to drive their businesses; it teaches them how to manage it.
Here are some of the benefits of Lean Startup:
- It saves companies from failure. When a company puts its product into a test, three things happen:
- It’ll learn based on the customer feedback
- Build product that satisfies customer’s needs; and
- Saves the company from failure
- It makes startup smarter. According to Reis, startups are human institutions designed to solve specific problems. So, rather than lending a huge amount of money to create your product, the Lean Startup encourages you to answer this question first: why should you build this product in the first place?
- It removes uncertainty. Most companies failed quickly because they focus their energy on creating products, without first putting it into a test. Lean Startup removes uncertainty by first learning what the customer needs, and then creating the product that meets their needs.
- It makes businesses more successful. Since Lean Startup is based on the principles of testing and learning, it makes companies build a successful product. When a product is first introduced to customers, and then created using their feedback, that product will most likely sell in large quantity.
Using Lean in Your Blogging Business
Whether you’re considering starting blogging, or you’re a professional blogger already, you can follow these lean principles to grow your blogging business into a successful online company:
1. Define your niche
What’s the one thing you love doing?
Is it writing, making videos, watching movies, or visiting pepper soup joints? You got to dig deep into your mind to find that natural endowment in you.
If you can’t discover it yourself, you can find it by asking, or carefully observing, what your friends, colleagues, and relatives are saying about you. Do they commend you when you write an email to them? Or hail you when you show that your video shoot to them?
The moment you find out what they often praise you for, you can start blogging about it – it could be your niche.
2. Build a product
In blogging, the smartest thing to do is to grow the audience first, before you build a viable product.
After all, if you don’t have audience, how can you test your product? As a blogger, finding a substantial amount of audience is crucial for your business. And rather than spending huge amount of money in Pay-Per-Click ads, the easiest and effective way to generate audience is through content marketing – i.e. the use of text, videos, or audios to promote your online business.
You can write about your product freely on your blog. This is an unfair advantage because as you promote your product to your prospect, you’re also educating them and building relationship with them to know, like, and trust you.
You’ve a viable audience when:
- You’re getting enough feedback on your blog posts
- Your posts are shared in hundreds or thousands on social media platforms
- You’re getting more audience organically (i.e., through visits from people finding your site through a search engine)
Once you grow some audience, you can put your product in front of them.
3. Share your product with your audience
Rather than building a time-consuming, expensive product with no feedback from the potential customers, Lean Startup lets you reveal your product to your audience.
As a blogger, your product might be an eBook, an online course, webinars, audio and video files, selling affiliate product, or simply selling access to your audience to advertisers – who want to sell something to your audience.
When you present your brand new product to your audience, you’ll learn what they think about it through feedback. Once you get their feedback, you can enhance the product to better suit them. If your customers are more satisfied, they’ll buy more. And when you have more customers and more sales, you know what that means…
You’re in money.
4. Build your media company
By knowing what exactly your audience wants, you can build a product that will go viral in sales because you’ve already known what they want.
Before he published his #2 New York Times bestseller book titled, “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business, Reis started blogging about it first on his blog – Lessons Learned…
In other words, he initially educated his potential customers, and established relationship with them. That means, his prospects had already known him, and, most importantly, most of them had already fall in love with his lean ideas, even before he pitched his book to them.
No wonder, Amazon listed the book as their Best Business Book of 2011. Indirectly, customers are begging Reis to sell them more of lean content. Amazing, huh? And when it was released, the book went viral. As of June 2012, Lean Startup has sold 90, 000 copies in the US alone. Reis’ blog has more than 75, 000 subscribers, and his annual conference attracts more than 400 entrepreneurs, each paying more than $500 (or NGN80, 000).
So with lean, you, yes you, have nothing to be afraid of – not any more. Thinking of starting an e-course on your blog? Launch it immediately. Don’t wait till you make it 100% perfect. Just introduce it to your audience, and watch their response. Then build the perfect one they need, and make fortunes doing what you love.
Photo Credit: madamenoire.com
Suhaib Mohammed is a professional freelance writer. He’s the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Haibtext – a learning platform for both experienced and aspiring writers. Subscribe to his blog here: http://haibtext.com and receive high impact articles on freelance writing … for FREE. Connect with him on Twitter – @Haibtext and Facebook – http://facebook.com/haibtext