Starting up or running a business is a costly affair. I have heard several speakers admonishing entrepreneurs to practice so-called “lean startup”. If you are like me, you would be wondering: “what is a lean startup”.
I am hoping to help others find a practical and real-world application of working “lean”. Lean is a fancy way of saying “barebones or its-absolutely-necessary”. There aren’t any specific formulae but rather the methodology of simply keeping your business operations, costs and budgets to as minimum as possible. The methodology forces a business owner to go the extra mile when sourcing for any type of service or product necessary for their venture. So, for every aspect of the business, be it communications, marketing, advertisements, face to face meetings, and so forth, the lean operator must go the extra step to keep to a bare minimum cost.
To elucidate a bit on this, let us take one aspect of most businesses which “eats up” a significant percentage of the budget. Communications, and in particular, telecommunications, that can skyrocket and cause severe damage to a company’s bottom-line.
Applying a lean methodology to telecommunications begins with a quick and dirty “write-up” of what your needs are. You would be surprised how many entrepreneurs fail at this most basic step. Do not worry, I failed this step too. I was busy “looking” at what other successful businesses were doing and chose solutions that were not practical and costly to operate.
When you have scribbled down what you truly need for your business, you then get down to researching the most cost-effective ways by which your customers can contact you. Think of the long-term and weigh the consequences of using such a communication medium. Happily, today’s telecommunications landscape is ripe with a plethora of solutions.
An internet capable smartphone with email and several apps (WhatsApp, BBM, Signal, Telegram, and Skype) can save the entrepreneur a lot of money. But, do not also be fooled by the many offerings of the mobile service providers. Be “sober” and mindful of the trappings of data costs because of those annual contracts. And, hold the principle that NO telecommunications provider is LOYAL. They are in it for the money and so should you too. With these guidelines, entrepreneurs should go lean by selecting the most median, practical and cost-effective telecommunications provider without the “data and new smartphone trappings”. The iPhone 6 will still serve you well and will save you 50-80% on your device expenditure than when you decide to go with a “fancy” iPhone X which costs upwards of $1000. One day, when your business is flourishing you can pick up two iPhones but for a lean entrepreneur, stick to the practical.
As an example, I use a Blackberry Priv smartphone, purchased new and through an auction website. That saved me about 55% on the price of the device. After spending an entire weekend comparing sim-only deals, I got myself a 4G LTE, 250MB, 100min Sim-only service from a reputable service provider and pay less than $5 a month.
Go lean and try not to waste money. My two cents! Stay Professional.
About the author: Sal Souza is an International Designer (Graphic, Visual, Multimedia, Broadcast Media, Industrial, User Interaction, User Experience) and IT Consultant with expertise in New Media, Web 3.0, IPTV, DTV, Media Production, Product Prototyping, Desktop Software, Interactivity, Mobile Applications, Traditional Knowledge, Geographical Indications and Cultural Goods. He lives and works in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.