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Want to Be an Agile Entrepreneur? Get Into This 1 Habit

Increasing your effectiveness may be easier than you think.

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BY Maria Matarelli - 07 Jun 2018

Want to Be an Agile Entrepreneur? Get Into This 1 Habit

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Sometimes I speak with entrepreneurs who are struggling to get momentum in their business and they may not be sure how to get things moving forward.

The truth is, starting a business can be challenging and sometimes it may feel like an uphill battle. You need to be able to be Agile in how you work as you start your business.

The one habit you need to be an Agile entrepreneur?

Get into the habit of constantly inspecting and adapting whatever it is you're doing. Whether it's a long-term project or the way you're marketing your business, you can follow the same iterative approach.

Get in the flow. Build your momentum one step at a time. Then, inspect and adapt.

Here's how it works.

Break Tasks into Time-boxes

Some tasks may seem challenging or overwhelming when we look at them for the first time. Launching a product or building a company from the ground up may seem almost impossible at the beginning.

Agile entrepreneurs think about tasks from a different mindset. They break work into smaller chunks and focus on completing a minimal increment in a timebox.

These timeboxes help keep you focused. Massive tasks that stretch endlessly into the future suddenly aren't so overwhelming. And each time you complete one of those smaller tasks, you gain momentum. You see the incremental victories stack up. And soon, that massive task is manageable.

The first step is creating your timebox--pick a timeframe between one and four weeks. Two weeks is a typical timebox to use. Whichever length of time you select, just keep it consistent. Once it's in place, figure out what you can do in that span of time. Then do it. Once it's completed, plan out what you will do in the next timebox.

But the real power in this approach comes from inspecting and adapting at the end of each timebox before you begin the next as you stop and reflect on the results you've achieved and the feedback received.

Find the Fastest Path to Cash

As entrepreneurs, the race to your first dollar is a crucial endeavor. I've seen too many entrepreneurs run around doing all kinds of things other than actions that could potentially lead to money coming in.

The main concept of Agile is to do the simplest thing that could possibly work, release a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and then build upon it from there, inspecting and adapting as you go.

Ask yourself: What's the fastest path to cash that will allow me to get my product or service out there, increase awareness of my business, and validate that my target audience really is my ideal client?

I built my business very organically. It was all self-funded by creating a few products and services, putting them out there, and using the funds from those sales to continue promoting and growing my business.

It was a step-by-step process, and an Agile approach helped me break it into manageable pieces.

Instead of doing tasks randomly, decide what outcome you want to see at the end of the week. What deliverable will put you on the path to your first dollar?

Let's say you have a new product or service you want to promote. Don't wait until it is fully completed and ready to go before you validate that people want it in the market. Create your marketing material and validate that its something people want.

Race to that first dollar. Then, inspect what went well--and adapt as needed as you iterate on your offerings.

Adopt Your Agile Style

As an Agile entrepreneur, you can live and work in an Agile way. It opens up so many opportunities.

For example, I lead a lot of certification training classes. Many other trainers book themselves out solid for six months in advance. But I take a different approach. I don't fully book my calendar out that far. I leave room to respond to change.

Is that risky? Perhaps. But I manage to always fill my schedule with all of the billable work I need. That's because when a company needs a trainer on short notice, the supply is relatively low. I'm one of the only trainers that is ever available.

A few years ago, I was leading a training class in London when I received a request for a last minute training class for a very large bank in the top 25 of the list of Fortune 500 companies. I was able to be flexible and add in a new client that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to if I were to plan everything out with a six month lead time.

It can be advantageous to be adaptable and flexible. It can open the door for more opportunity.

When you put yourself in a position where you can respond to changes in the market, you can be there when your competitors are not.

When you are Agile, you can respond to the needs in the market. But it all starts with a habit of inspecting and adapting. Over and over again.

Each time you'll learn more, you'll get better, and you'll see your business grow.