How to Start an Agile Business From Scratch

Adopting agile methodologies when your business is a few years old is all well and good, but the best thing to do if you want to use this framework is to start your business from scratch with agile in mind.

If you’re looking to start up your own business and you want to incorporate agile frameworks into your plan, then you’re in an enviable position; a blank slate means you can write agility into the very fabric of your business.

Here’s how you can start an agile business from scratch and use the principles of agility to inform the day-to-day operation of your dream business!

Secure funding first

It’s not a fun or “sexy” thing to talk about, but one of the most important elements of starting up a business – agile or no – is to secure funding.

There are a number of avenues open to you when it comes to funding business ventures. A business loan is a good place to start, and if there was ever a good reason to borrow money, this is it. 

On those lines, you could also apply for a personal loan to inject some cash into the business if you’re not able to secure a business loan, or you could use savings to take the plunge.

However you decide to do it, just know that funding your business is essential; without a good source of funding, your business likely won’t get off the ground, unfortunately.

Keep your plan simple

If there’s one word that arguably codifies agility, it’s “simplicity”.

Agile projects cut through the chaff to get to what really matters, so if you want to start a business with agility in mind, then you’ll need to do the same.

When you’re writing your business plan, make sure to go over it with a fine-toothed comb, cutting out any extraneous wording or unnecessary bloat.

At the end of the process, you should have a business plan that’s clean, concise, and clear, and one that communicates who you are without waffling.

That’s the basis of agile methodologies, and it can be incorporated into your business plan as well.

Incorporate customer feedback

It’s important to remember that your business is never truly “finished”. You’ll always be iterating on and improving your processes, so considering yourself “done” at any stage is tantamount to admitting defeat.

With that in mind, you’re still technically in the startup stage even when your business has been running for a while, and that’s why it’s important to incorporate customer feedback early.

Agile frameworks depend heavily on customer feedback and iteration based on that feedback; they’re all about understanding what the customer or end user wants and building the project around that need.

Gathering feedback about your business and writing it into your plan on the core level is a great way to ensure that your business espouses agile values right at its centre.

Stay experimental

One of the core principles of agility is to experiment with new ideas and methods, find what works, and cut what doesn’t.

As such, if you want to ensure that your business is built around agile principles and frameworks, then one of the best ways to do that is to experiment on a regular basis.

If something in your business isn’t working – a key process that you’ve enshrined into your business plan, for instance, or a way of managing projects – then rip it up and start again.

Sticking to “what works” just for the sake of tradition or safety is the antithesis of what agile is all about, so if you find yourself doing that, make sure you check yourself and break out of that box.

Start small, go big

An agile project begins at the lowest level. It starts with the smallest possible achievements and grows from there, becoming a beautiful flower from a tiny seed.

That’s how you should think about an agile business as well. Start at the smallest level; don’t try to overthink the big stuff early on, because you’ll just end up overwhelming yourself.

Focus on achievable and deliverable goals, both for the business itself and for its customers. Before long, you should notice that you’re starting to grow and that the projects are naturally becoming more complex, and that’s how agile works.

By focusing on what can be achieved rather than the bigger picture, you’re ensuring that your projects are always nimble, small, and easily completed, which is the basis of agility.

Don’t be rigid

While a business plan is a crucial document for any entrepreneur to have, an agile business needs to treat that document a little differently to most businesses.

You need to be willing to change and iterate on that plan as soon as it needs changing, because agility is all about constantly checking your processes to make sure they’re working.

That doesn’t just mean occasionally revisiting some of the wording in your business plan, nor does it mean examining the plan every now and then without making real change.

Rather, it means metaphorically ripping up the rulebook every time something even shows a hint of not working, and returning to the drawing board to find something newer and more effective.

Be prepared to move staff around

Another important aspect of agility is understanding where staff members might best be placed, and moving them around within your organisation in response to that knowledge.

You’ll need to exercise creative, out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to figuring out where your staff members’ strengths lie, because under an agile framework, those strengths might not be best suited for the place they’re currently occupying.

Regular meetings with your staff members to discuss not only how they think things are going, but also where they personally think they’d be best placed, are very important.

Generally speaking, communication within an agile organisation is of paramount importance, but it’s particularly relevant when you’re trying to figure out where each of your staff members would be best-placed within the business’ structure.

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