It's a common refrain among starry-eyed young treps: "Go big or go home." They encourage each other before turning, bleary-eyed, back to their computers.
Considering everything that most entrepreneurs put on the line for their businesses, it's an understandable mistake.
That's right, I said it: The "go big or go home" mentality is a mistake that will land many on the path to failure. By contrast, I would argue that "go smart or go broke" is a more apropos adage these days.
In today's world, "bigger" isn't necessarily better. Between low-cost-marketing and digital-production tools, you can invest less time and capital, and focus more on working smarter.
In this vein, here are a few suggestions:
Take advantage of digital tools.
A lot of entrepreneurs don't realize how dramatically new digital tools have decreased the costs of starting a business or growing an existing one. For instance, many never take the easy steps to start a business online. Or worse, young entrepreneurs unnecessarily risk too much capital upfront and are left with nothing -- without even a clue as to why their businesses failed.
Today's digital tools are perfect for getting you started with minimal time or financial capital. Sites like Guru, Elance, and Fiverr help you outsource labor for relatively cheap. Need a website, a video, copy or a logo? These websites have professional freelancers bid for your job, which works out great for you. You can get a professional job done at a low cost.
Test ideas for free.
In the old days, companies relied on focus groups or surveys to test their ideas. The strategy was deemed ineffective because what people say they will do and what they actually do are different -- particularly when they anticipate the reaction you're seeking. Thankfully, we can now test business ideas before deciding to roll out on a large scale.
Analytics tools like Google Analytics help companies do just that. Founders can pay attention to how customers behave on their website: Where do they go and what do they avoid? Cheaper than focus groups, these analytics can offer valuable information about what customers are actually interested in, in real time.
And let's not forget social media, a.k.a. the "instafocus group." Have an idea but aren't sure how viable it is? Identify groups within your target demographic and start connecting. This is especially valuable because you will be entering real conversations, rather than reading answers from a survey. Social media is also great for competitor research. What are your competitors doing? What are their customers saying they want? This information formerly sat under lock and key inside a company's headquarters. Today, it's completely free.
Market more effectively.
Marketing is also profoundly easier these days. Forget expensive TV or print ad campaigns. Pay-per-click and cost-per-action ads are cost-effective and can quickly show their worth, as companies can see which ads actually produce revenue.
Other marketing methods for generating inbound leads include social media and content marketing. It requires careful thought to develop the right strategy and it's a time investment to manage, but they are good solutions for promoting your business without blowing your budget.
How do you feel about the "go big or go home" business philosophy? Let us know if you think it's outdated or simply misused these days.