April 2, 2023 • Business

5 Reasons to Start Small to Win Big in Business

Smaller is better.

Two businesses started as casual conversations in midtown Manhattan coffee shops. This is a start-small approach at its core.

One, we wrote ideas quite literally on a napkin. Both became successful endeavors, leading to an international performance series across Tokyo, Singapore, and Montreal and a cross-platform reviews application.

Coffee shop table
Photo by Lina Kivaka

These success stories didn’t start as multi-million dollar investments. 

Instead, they began as guided chats in modest coffee shops with my clients. I was their guide. I lead clients from coffee-napkin ideas to grand execution—one small step at a time—for a living.

But don’t just take my clients’ experiences for it: Gwyneth Paltrow’s multi-million dollar lifestyle brand, Goop, started as a weekly email newsletter to a few friends. And Amazon very notably started as an online bookstore in Jeff Bezos’ home garage.

Starting small pays off. 

In fact, starting a business with just the bare bones is a long-term strategic play. 

Here are five reasons you should start small to win big in business.

5 Reasons to Start Small in Business

1. Agility is Your Advantage

When you start small, your business is lean. You move faster with fewer fixed commitments. 

Without the overhead—or the proverbial weight—of a commercial lease, teams of employees, and other operational expenses, you can make precise and logical decisions that center your customer and your product-based business or service.

2. Leverage Early Feedback—and Save Money

I once talked a client out of an extra feature they wanted to add to the initial version of their app. We didn’t have the data or feedback to support whether said feature would be helpful or, quite frankly, worth their investment. This decision saved them $3,000 in design and development costs.

When starting small, your earliest prospective (and actual) customers can be the most valuable group in your business’ growth. So before you invest in the bells and whistles, get feedback from your earliest customers. 

Early feedback will inform the natural evolution of your product or service.

3. You’ll Create an Invested Community

By simply asking for feedback, you engage your customers. When your earliest customers are engaged, you foster community. 

Think of them as your mini cheer squad. They want to see you win, and you support their needs through your product or service, too.

Constructive and positive feedback can signal whether you’re on the right track with your business. Your openness to ask demonstrates that you’re invested not only in your product or service but also in your customer and their experience. Customer service for the win!

4. Build Buzz & Be First to Market

Leverage your agility and your earliest customers for organic marketing efforts like word of mouth. Asking for one tweet or written testimonial that you can share across your professional and social networks, or even your website, can show social proof and drives early interest, engagement, buzz, and traffic. There are ways to automate this process, too.

If your product or service is unique to your audience or region, starting small means you can be first to market. 

The internet creates immense opportunities for you to test, implement, and attract prospective customers quite literally overnight. And this isn’t about making a get-rich-quick scheme. Instead, it’s about testing your product or service in its earliest stages to inform demand, growth, and future opportunity. Speed to market is easier for you at this stage.

Success is iterative. Iteration in business means “achieving a long-term goal by meticulously repeating a certain strategy that has proven successful.” When you start small, you can gather these iterative data (and success) points with much lesser risk, bringing us to our final advantage of starting small in business.

5. Succeed with Lower Risk

The ‘high risk, high reward’ principle does not apply when building a long-lasting brand or business. Instead, when you start small, your task is to get a product or service to your customer with as little friction as possible. 

Your reward is closing the first deal (or making the first sale). And you shouldn’t aim to go broke to get those initial sales. You should leave some runway and expect to refine the experience, product, or service.

Remember, we’re not looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. Starting small in business allows room for you to flourish. And your journey might make a good chapter in your book one day!

Start Small to Win Big in Business

From that city coffee shop with my client to boarding for Singapore to see that client’s idea on an international stage, I’ve seen first-hand how starting small yields limitless results.

As a Creative Director and business operator myself, with over 15 years of global-client experience, I have seen, developed, and coached first-time business owners from concept to fruition. And I have a propensity for those ideas (and initial meetings) to kick off in coffee shops.

Start small. I know you’ll win.

About the Author
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