If a small company is disciplined enough not to waste from the get go, it can set itself up to beat the odds and flourish later.
Let’s face it. This hyper-consumption society we’re living in is breaking us down. We are voracious spenders, workers, and technology users, often with destructive effects on our health, relationships, quality of life…and yes, our businesses. We entrepreneurs may recognize this in the back of our minds, yet most of us still struggle to shift out of the waste paradigm.
This is why I challenge start-ups to muscle up from the outset and establish the boundaries, habits, and business practices that allow them to embrace the oh-so-important “waste not, want not” adage. Mastering this simple (but not so easy) rule is a key way that a start-up can outperform the majority of its peers that will go out of business within five years. Think of it as the “lean start-up” rule for these lean years.
Looking back on my journey as a small-business owner, I realize the best way to slay the hyper-consumption dragon is to start out by thinking about what you want, and then work backwards to figure out how not wasting will help you get those things faster. If you wait until later when you’re more set in your ways, it becomes extremely difficult (although not impossible!) to distinguish the “nice to haves” from the “must haves.”
Let’s assume that your goal, for example, is to create a profitable business by year three. This means making hard choices to curb frivolous spending, and being mindful when it comes to saving–whether that be cash or time! To get your creative juices flowing, here are three examples of ways to rein in spending:
1. Reward customers and team with exuberance, not extravagance.
“It’s the thought that counts” actually holds true, plus, is often more affordable! Rather than spend a lot on a generic department store gift, why not gift something more personal from a handmade marketplace such as Etsy? And if you do choose a more usual gift category, find an unusual provider, like Urban Meadows, a nonprofit florist in Chicago that assists people with mental illness in their recovery journey.
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