Radically lean: Why you should do it (read: everything) step-by-step.

Written by Philipp Steinweber

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
And here’s to the makers, doers, changers.

Do it step-by-step.

What’s it? We’ll it can be anything. I am mainly talking about projects, products, websites, offerings to your clients, etc…
But it can be all sorts of business or personal endeavors.

And why do we bother? Because not caring about this principle is the number one mistake that we see people making. Over and over again, in our personal as well as our professional lives.

So while “do it step-by-step” sounds like a childish pledge, almost everyone makes the mistake of not following it radically enough. And making this mistake is a certain way of burning money.

In a way it’s like that famous ‘cleaning your attic’ metaphor:
A whole room full of chaos is hard to tackle. The recipe for success is to approach it box by box. But breaking it down into small chunks is only the practical side of things. There is also a certain mindset and understanding of processes required.

You won’t get it right the first time

No matter how many flow charts you draw, no matter how many hours of brain power you put into the conceptual phase…: once your product/website/anything hits real life, you’ll immediately spot some major flaws in your pre-launch thinking.

Professionally, this presents us with a challenging situation on a regular basis. Providing professional consulting services and in the same sentence saying something along the lines of “we’ll be all wrong with many of our assumptions” sounds seriously broken.

Sure, we provide a massive reduction in the number of potential mistakes, especially in the field of a working website, technology and design. It’s the target audience and offerings, in other words business fundamentals, that are often flawed. But it’s not limited to those by far.

The solution is: Make getting it wrong part of the process. Plan for it. Plan for constant reiteration and improvement from the beginning. Don’t plan on retiring the minute after your product and site are launched.

Develop a mindset of improving constantly

I repeat: Getting it wrong is part of the process. So plan for it. We are not talking (only) about major failures. But, no matter how good you know the desires of your business avatar are, too often the initial version of the “buy now” button isn’t clicked as much as you had hoped for – it happens all the time.

And I think that this is one of the major facts that “launch formulas” or other success stories do not emphasize enough.

Lower your short-term expectations. Now, I love thinking big and am a huge practitioner of exactly that. But expecting some magic results from your initial version of anything can lead to a lot of frustration and can even result in your stopping doing it at all.

Better be prepared for a couple of rounds of failure. Obviously also be prepared for success, but don’t become delusional about the process that will lead you there.

If you read the stories about successful people you’ll find out that none of their successes is based on magic formulas or good luck. But perseverance.

Break it down into small chunks

So how does this mindset of constant improvement manifest in practice?

Everything gets broken down into small chunks.

You have an idea for an offering for your audience and want to build a full fledged website and e-commerce store for it?

Please don’t (just yet).

Start with a landing page and test how people react. How many people from your network can you sign up for a free or pre-sale offer, 2%, 5%, 20%?

You don’t need a flip chart full of boxes and arrows or thousands of dollars for a web developer for doing that. You can use Unbounce and 15 minutes of your own time.

The outcome?

You’re getting in front of your audience immediately. You are not hiding behind concepts, but you’re “out there”. And there’s no doubt that you will learn a lot from being there.

Then, and only then, you’re ready for the next, small step. Until you arrive at your full-fledged e-commerce store (one that works).

-> Radically lean

For cranking out a simple landing page for an initial test, you need to have one skill: being able to radically strip away optional things.

The Lean Startup speaks about the MVP, the minimum viable product.

The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a startup can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect questions.

This abstraction, while being simple isn’t easy. But hey, it should be much easier than creating complex concepts for your project.

Being out there is so different from all that hidden conceptual work though. But learning to being able to replace a lot of that with practical experience could be the #1 skill that you need right now.

An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

About the author

Philipp Steinweber

Philipp is the founder of Metamonks and Omooni, and passionate about personal growth. On Soulful Hustle he open-sources the strategies and insights learned from his projects.