A Learn-As-You-Go Approach to Designing Your Future
All those sparkly ideas, those daydreams about being your own boss, those fantasies about freedom and success - why not take them seriously?
You don't have to quit your day-job to get started. The Art of Small Business Design can help you take the first steps to make your business a reality without risking it all to get there.
What's contained in these pages didn’t arrive out of nowhere — it came from decades of observations and conversations with people just like you as they brought their creative ideas to life.
No one followed a formula, few wrote business plans, and no one knew anything about business before they started. Instead, they put something out there, creatively responded to what happened and just kept going until they found their personal elixir for small business success.
These pages will help you find out if your dream has potential, figure out your method for making it all happen and map a direct path into a future designed by you.
By the end of this journey, you'll know how to:
Determine what makes a business work and why
Bring creativity and heart into building something you and your customers adore
Draw a road map from where you are today, to where you want to be tomorrow
Avoid the most common missteps those new to small business make
Usher in your new future as a small business owner
Transform the world around you into a personal learning laboratory
Here’s how you’ll do it:
1: Establish a Method Within the Madness
First, you’ll become oriented to your new “school”. You’ll learn that by putting a new lens on everyday life, you can pick up the business knowledge you need to start your own. By the end of this chapter, you’ll throw your ideas into a simple framework that will put some order into your world and show you why writing a business plan is not the way to begin.
2: See the Pieces and the Whole
Then we’ll dive deeper into exploring how the parts of a business come together to make a coherent and valuable whole. In this chapter, we’ll explore what a business model is and why business modelling is central to testing your ideas. You’ll reflect on what makes a business valuable to customers and why they'll choose yours over the competition. You’ll finish this chapter knowing why you can’t create a business without involving the people you're creating it for.
3: Create Something People Treasure
In this chapter, we’ll explore the relationship between your idea and a viable customer base. These are the “Whats,” “Whos” and “Whys” of your business. You’ll draw meaningful connections between the thing you want to sell and the people most interested in buying it. You’ll get concrete in your thoughts and begin to articulate exactly why these particular people need and want what you’d like to offer.
4: Bring the Goods to Market
Then you’ll turn to the “Hows” and “How Muchs” of your business. You’ll dive into the practical aspects of setting up and running your business. You’ll detail how you’ll bring your ideas to life through establishing supportive business processes and designing creative customer contact. By the end of this chapter, you’ll know how much starting your business will cost you and how much you’ll potentially be able to earn. That bottom line calculation will be your first glimpse of whether your business has the potential to work or not.
5: Bridge Fantasy and Reality
Next, you’ll assess where your biggest business risks lie. Because you can’t afford to make costly or time-consuming mistakes, you’ll reflect on where your business is most vulnerable and design safe-to-fail experiments that help you avoid wrong turns. You'll see how validating your hunches through real-world experiments tells you which direction to go.
6: Get to Know Your Customers
From here, you'll stop guessing how people will respond to your business and will find out how they actually respond. This chapter shows you how to interact with real people in the real world to validate as well as expand on your initial ideas. Going out and talking to people will enrich and inform the work you’ve done so far and will produce the last proof of concept you need before executing on your ideas.
7: Turn Insights into a Business
Next, you’ll take all gems you gathered through interacting with real people and turn them into a truly amazing business. You’ll let your creative juices flow and transform good ideas to great ones. You’ll design amazing experiences that surprise and delight your customers. You'll end this chapter with a step-by-step action plan leading directly to sales and with confidence that your business has wings.
8: Transition into Self-Employment
And finally, you’ll take a closer look at what transitioning into self-employment looks like, what you might have to face along the way and how to put support around you to ensure you can keep moving forward. Being a small business owner requires more than business know-how. It requires an emotionally, psychologically and environmentally nourished position in the world. By pre-empting and attending to the difficulties many face when going out on their own, you can properly nurture your new business’ growth so that it can nurture yours.