The Minimalist Entrepreneur – Sahil Lavingia
The Minimalist Entrepreneur, written by Sahil Lavingia, is a book that advocates for a minimalist approach to business. It focuses on the idea that successful companies are those that can do more with less, and that entrepreneurs should strive to minimize their costs and maximize their profits.
The book provides advice on how to create a successful business without spending a lot of money, including focusing on what is essential and cutting out the non-essential, learning to prioritize and delegate tasks, and understanding the importance of iteration.
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Additionally, the book includes case studies of successful entrepreneurs who have found success with minimal resources. Finally, the book provides guidance on how to adjust the business model quickly and effectively in order to remain competitive.
This book is a manual to help design, build and successfully grow your own minimalist business
Market by Being You
Once you have repeat customers to sustain your business without ongoing sales efforts (product-market fit), you can focus on scaling with marketing
Marketing is sales at scale – while sales is outbound and one-by-one, marketing is inbound and about attracting 100s of potential customers at a time (harder)
The best way to start marketing is by spending your time (not money) building a following (audience) online and offline
People don’t go from being strangers to customers in one step – they go from strangers -> being vaguely aware of your existence -> fans -> customers -> repeat customers through The Minimalist Marketing Funnel:
- Engage – people encounter your product (e.g. in their Instagram feed, forum post etc.) and most likely forget about it or “like” it
- Follow – eventually, they’ll get interested (not in your product), but in what you/your business has to say and they’ll “follow” you/check out your website
- Research and Consider – if they’re a fit, they’ll consider your product and evaluate its functionality, pricing etc.
- Purchase – if they like your product enough, they’ll eventually buy
Top of the Funnel – Social Media and SEO
Get started on social media by trying platforms (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc.) where your audience “lives” online and that most suits your personality
People don’t care about companies – they care about other people.
Be authentic online and create content with this framework
- Educate – provide value for free – build in public and share what you’ve learned
- Inspire – share your struggles, successes and show people what’s possible
- Entertain – just have more fun while educating and inspiring people – crack jokes, make people laugh
- Trust the feedback loop – as you keep sharing, you’ll collect more data on what works and what doesn’t
Middle of the Funnel – Emails and Communities
Building an email list gives you a direct line to your customers that’s not controlled by private companies, algorithms or advertising
Do the same with emails as any other content – educate -> inspire -> entertain
By collecting emails, the sale isn’t the end of the transaction between you and the customer – they become part of your audience and hear from you again and again
Bottom of the Funnel – Sales – now the customers buy.
Grow yourself and your business mindfully
After you’re profitable and have an organically growing customer base, don’t get complacent – the world is constantly changing and you have to adapt
If you don’t, your customers will churn and your employees will leave
Two categories of self-inflicted mistakes to watch out for:
Running out of money
- Don’t spend money you don’t have – always be profitable and make more than you spend so your company can keep going forever
- Only pay yourself as profits allow
- Outsource everything using software -> freelancers -> full-time employees (in that order)
- Don’t get an office or move to Silicon Valley – it’s cheaper and less competitive to work remotely & build your company in a smaller city
- Be incredibly disciplined with your expenses
- Stay focused on what your customers want – everything your business develops/creates should be scrutinized in the eyes of your customer
- Why does this matter for the customer? What value does it bring?
- Raise money from your community – using regulation crowdfunding (if legal in your country) instead of raising from VCs or calm funds
Running out of energy
- Overcommunicate with your cofounder – approach your cofounder relationship like a marriage (because it’ll drain you otherwise):
- Don’t start a relationship unless you really, really trust them
- Introduce vesting so that each of you earns your stock over several years
- Make sure you’re aligned on your values, what/how you want to build
- Plan for the possibility that one of you may leave
- Have the hard conversations as early as you possibly can
- Maintain your energy and sanity – avoid thinking you always need to do more, earn more or grow more
Your company grows as quickly as your customers determine it will grow – the number of hours you work often is not correlated with business growth
Build the House You Want to Live In
Before you hire anyone, you first need to make a company people want to work for – build the house you want to live in
- Define your values early and often – start small and grow from there
- Values codify what you believe, tell everyone how to behave in any situation and put it in a place where everyone can see (and suggest changes)
- Values supersede you, and allow you to scale
Beware of the Peter Principle – in every hierarchy (company), every employee gets promoted until they get stuck with the job they’re not good at.
Hiring looks a lot like firing yourself – look to hire people who are better than you from the beginning
Profitability means sustainability. Instead of treading water until a lifeboat comes along to save you—which is how many founders think about raising their next round of VC funding—it means building your own boat.
Fit is two-way – if someone isn’t working out for you, you’re not working out for them.
Get the book!
The world will tell you to go big or go home, but I say go small at the beginning. And the smallest you could possibly start is to build nothing at all. Instead of skipping straight to software, stick with pen and paper