How to use Gerber’s “lemonade stand” prototype

Insights from Joe Gerber: How to prototype a business Prototypes are one of the most important steps in the design process. Can prototyping also be applied to the business design process? A prototype is a first or preliminary version of a design from which other forms are developed. The goal of a prototype is to test products and ideas before investing too much time and money into the final product. We use prototypes in creating and refining products and services. Can we also use them to create and refine businesses? Prototyping helps you quickly and cheaply explore possible alternatives

Closing the gap between product and audience

Start-ups often fail because they don’t understand their target market’s motivations. They have fine- tuned their offering but lost sight of why. However, ‘why’ is critical to start-up success. ‘Why’ is understanding your customers’ needs and it brings clarity and gives your venture purpose. Branding is communicating the ‘why’ and it closes the gap between your product and audience. Branding is more than a company name, logo and colour palette. It’s about how you communicate with consumers, how you convey why your product matters, how you tell them you understand their needs. Branding should be a cornerstone of your

Don’t forget the finer details: A guide to starting a business

Five top tips when starting your business because the devil, as they say, is in the detail. When it comes to starting a business you’ll spend time speaking to lawyers, accountants, contractors, suppliers, designers and many others. You’ll be constantly creating, testing and refining your product or service. You’ll be scrutinising budgets, signing contracts and putting processes in place. But alongside this big-picture activity, make sure you pay attention to the finer details. Don’t forget to do these five tasks because the devil, as they say, is in the detail. 1. Make a name for yourself:Choose a company name

Find the market need: Design thinking for start-ups

Test the waters with design thinking to increase your chances for success. “No market need” is the main reason that start-ups often fail within their first 18 months. An offering may look good on paper but how will it perform in the real world? How will customers take to it? Is there even a need for it? Start-ups take too much time, money and energy to create something nobody wants. If nobody wants your product, there’s a high chance you’ll fail before you even get off the ground. Test the waters and take a design thinking approach to your

Age is a benefit rather than a barrier for entrepreneurs

Age is an age-old argument when it comes to entrepreneurs, but late starters have the skills and knowledge that only come with experience. Our image of entrepreneurs in recent years is often twenty-something year-old men who strike it hot in the tech world. Think Mark Zuckerburg with Facebook, Evan Speigel for Snapchat and Drew Houston’s Dropbox. But that stereotype is only a small slice of the pie as many entrepreneurs don’t launch their own start-ups until their 30s, 40s and beyond having learnt a thing or two about business and life. Despite the focus on young start-up stories, there

How to turn those buzzwords into a start-up success

What’s the difference between design thinking, lean start-up and agile? Here’s a quick guide to the entrepreneurial buzzwords and how to use them for greater success. As markets are more dynamic and rapidly evolving in the digital age, start-ups need to respond and operate in the same way. Gone are the days when products and services were perfected before ever being presented to the prospective market. Today, successful start-ups take an iterative approach by testing ideas and measuring progress with real users. Three key terms underpin this approach: design thinking, lean start-up and agile. In essence, design thinking drives

Richard Branson’s ballsy advice: Screw it, let’s do it

Richard Branson is the serial entrepreneur who dropped out of school at age sixteen to start a magazine and the rest, as they say, is history. His business philosophy? Screw it, let’s do it. Branson has a legendary legacy for being a serial entrepreneur from a young age. He started his first business, Student magazine, at age sixteen and worked out of a school phone box to sell advertising to raise money. While he admits he wasn’t interested in being a businessman, the experience taught him about sales, advertising, printing, paper, distribution and all the other components of running

Boosting the Sustainability of a Small Business

The core idea of a lean businessis to maximise customer value and minimise waste; or in other words, create value for customers with fewer resources. In this way, operating a lean business is not only good for you but also for your customers, because by eliminating wasteful practices, you can focus on areas worth investment. Here are five ways to apply lean business principles to your start-up or small business for that magic elixir of growth and sustainability. #1. Identify value-add, value-waste and value-enable work The first step is to identity the work that adds customer value and the

Live Long and Prosper: 5 Ways to Survive Seasonality

Seasons come, seasons go – and with it come the highs and lows of revenue, staffing, inventory, you name it. Seasonality is yet another pressure that can make it difficult for a small business to survive. But with some clever thinking and smart planning you can prepare for those frustrating fluctuations in trade. Here are five ways to think for your business to survive seasonality and live long and prosper. #1. Think laterally: diversify your products or services Diversifying your business with products or services that appeal to a broader market or cater to more of your customers’ needs can

How to Improve Cash Flow by Reassessing Profit Margins

Cash flow is a big issue that can plague small businesses. It may be due to late-paying customers, cash tied up in inventory, or reinvesting profits back into your business. It can also be due to your profit margins being too low. And it’s this last reason we’re exploring here with advice on how to reassess your profit margins. #1. Calculate your breakeven point A breakeven analysis can help you determine the point at which your business begins to make a profit. This important exercise weighs your total business costs and overheads (fixed and variable) against your revenue to