Starting a business requires a leap of faith as you need to manoeuvre the known and unknown risks. And one of the biggest risks is the limited resources to raise capital. If you don’t have any capital, but have a tonne of entrepreneurial drive and a great product idea, you would want to consider applying the so-called “leap and lean” approach.
What is this “leap and lean” approach?
It starts with taking a leap of faith. In other words, you merely need to know that you have what it takes to walk the first few steps without seeing the whole staircase. This means if you don’t have enough capital and other resources to work on the ideas, keep a positive attitude and remain enthusiastic.
Creative ideas will eventually come along when you need them the most. A case in point is AirBnB.com, which started out with a very good idea and zero financial capital. The three founders Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky, and Nathan Blecharczyk sold 500 special edition 2008 Presidential Election Obama O’s and Cap’N McCain’s cereals for $40 each to raise $20,000 starting capital. Today, AirBnB.com is valued at $10 billion.
As Eric Reis of The Lean Startup posited that most startups create products under conditions of extreme uncertainty. It would require a “just do it” mentality, which is exactly what “having a leap of faith” means. Moreover, it is much more than about failing fast and getting back up quick.
The Lean Startup methodology pivots around a premise that every startup is an experiment that attempts to provide a solution or an answer to a question. Thus, the question is not whether a product is built or not. Instead, whether it should be constructed. If it is, how can it be built to sustain a long-term business?
Another famous case in point is Snapchat, which is a combo of three apps: filtered camera, communication, and content provider. It has proven to be an excellent combination indeed, with which people can share photos and videos in an instant and just for fun. The “fun factor” is added with the auto-delete feature. With those three primary features, Snapchat is likely to remain sustainable in the long run, despite starting out as a university project named “Picaboo.”
One more case study. A visionary Nepalese entrepreneur Nirmal Gyanwali, who migrated to Sydney, Australia, as a student, combined “leap” with “lean” approach to his business. He first took a leap of faith moving to this Australian metropolitan, and after just three months, he got a good IT job.
After several years, he ventured out alone and started a front-end Web development business with zero financial capital. Equipped with a Web site, he met prospects in person, convinced them and asked for upfront payment to be used to rent an office. A new business was born with literally clients’ money, which made half a million dollar in revenue in the first year.
Airbnb, Snapchat, and Nirmal started out with a leap of faith and zero capital. Trusting one’s leap of faith and work through challenges with lean startup approach should be in every entrepreneur’s agenda. After all, every risk is not to be feared; every risk has a solution.
Have faith; stay lean. Leap.