During a recent interview I was asked ‘How have you funded yourself so far’ and part of my answer was:
“We both strongly believe that you can achieve a hell of a lot without having to spend a huge amount of money – it just takes a bit of creative thinking and patience.”
I received an email recently from a gentleman who had read my answer and said:
‘I’d really like to expand on that idea. There is a recent movement in Germany amongst young entrepreneurs and new startup companies that was initially set into motion by Guenter Faltin’s book “Brains versus Capital” called concept-creative entrepreneurship.
A wealth of examples have shown that classic, conventional entrepreneurship is outdated. You really DON’T need much starting capital or a degree in economics, as long as your concept is well though-out, stable, and intelligent. You really shouldn’t rush to get your idea onto the market, but rather fine-tune the concept again and again, get out the bugs, so to speak. Therefore, I am glad to see a similar approach catching on in the UK. Props to you guys! ‘
When starting a new project or a problem needs solving I try to approach it with a combination of Frugality, Common sense and creativity.
In the book mentioned above, Mr Faltin calls it Lean, Smart, Simple.
I wasn’t aware that aspects of my thinking and approach was Lean but I guess it is.
The important thing to me is that it to allows me to solve problems in new and innovative ways that are often inexpensive too. Most of the time with even better results than if I had thrown thousands of pounds at it.
An example, we take Bluebird to major festivals every year and to exhibit at the BBC Good Food Show. Two big set ups which needed to look professional and on brand and also be functional.
We originally looked at getting a structure custom made for us and all the quotes came back in their thousands. They were also fairly unexciting.
I’ve met many ‘entrepreneurs’ who would just throw a blank cheque book at the problem and ‘let the professionals sort it out’.
Commissioning specialist work by experts in can be essential in some circumstances but it should not be the default.
More often I often look at the price tag attached to such ‘professional’ work and think I could do that myself for more than half the price. This is the common sense part of my approach.
Plus, I don’t have a blank cheque book to throw so I am forced to approach things in a different way. This is where the creative part comes in.
Then finally, frugality must become your best business friend. It forces you to open up to the common sense and creative thinking because you have no other choice.
Luckily, one of my biggest assets (and possibly biggest failings) is that I believe I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. This self belief is an important part of getting a start up off the ground and it cannot be brought with money.
So after a bit of common sense, creative thinking we brought a fence panel pack, some crates, some tins, cut out some stencils, took a can of spray paint and our tool box.
We had over a handful of people compliment and ask us who did our event structure and how they could get one too. Most of them looked like they didn’t believe me when I said we had built it ourselves. I also had a few ‘women with power tools’ comments that I wont dignify by repeating.
Obviously it isn’t very Lean to spend two whole days with a screwdriver rather than at my desk and it wasn’t perfect by any means – it was rough around the edges, literally in parts.
Although I must admit doing this in a half finished prototype stage is not something that in the beginning of my journey would ever cross my mind.
I like to do big things. I like to do them now and I like to do them the best.
The idea of putting something out in the marketplace less than perfect terrified my control freak-perfectionist nature.
But you have to accept your limitations and in small penniless hands big ideas often start out a little rough around the edges.
I have had to learn that there is nothing wrong with fine-tuning a concept as you go along and in fact customers appreciate the humanist and honest nature of being able to see the little flaws and go along on the journey with you. That is the Lean part.
Brains v’s Capital… I’d take the brains any day. Every day.
Love + Tea