Start a project rather than a company | Reviews | Small Business Connect

Jason Baptiste

Christoff Oosthuysen  reviews Jason Baptise’s  ‘The Ultralight  Startup – Launching  A Business Without Clout Or Capital’, published by  Penguin (2012).

This is the book Jason Baptise, author of ‘The Ultralight Startup’, says he wished he had when he started as a “naive and passionate entrepreneur at the tender age of nineteen” because it would have helped him to avoid the many mistakes he made.

He says that entrepreneurs are leading in changing the world today and with the barriers in the way of starting a business being so much lower than in the past, it is possible for entrepreneurs to get “fantastic rewards”.

The first point of advice is that you should not be misguided by the promise that formal business training offers. He says: “Everything your MBA brother told you is wrong… It’s time to free your mind.” He then explains how he learnt from experience how to go about creating a startup from nothing with little, if any, funding, limited experience and just a few connections in the industry.

New entrepreneurs who are willing to learn will find this book invaluable, especially if you are working in the technology field, where most of Baptise’s examples are drawn from. He is after all an American tech entrepreneur who launched both successes and failures in the process of learning what works well.

The core idea is of course tied to the title…

Do not over-design your business before you take it to customers! It makes sense to formulate your idea and work with cofounders who offer different competencies and approaches to you so that you can take your idea to potential customers as soon as possible. Only formalise your business when you have a small team in place and are serving the needs of some customers. This is when you should look at raising money, not when you are still refining your initial idea.

The ideas in this book are based on Baptise’s own experience in starting business in the US. He launched Cloudomatic in 2010 after the failure of his first attempt. Later he co-launched Onswipe, of which he is the CEO.

The book’s promise book is that there are good ways of starting businesses without lots of money and experience. What you need is an idea that will solve a problem not being solved at the moment, but it does not have to be a very innovative or sexy idea – it must just address a problem your future customers are experiencing.

When your idea is refined, and you have the support of a small team, you set out to be better than the closest competition. You have to be better in some but not necessarily all aspects of your business.

This makes it attractive for customers to want to do business with you even if you are new and inexperienced.

The advice offered seems rather obvious, but gets straight to the point. For instance, this tip: Focus on how you will make your next dollar.

Rather obvious, but when you think about it and reflect on how easily entrepreneurs get carried away with ideas that do not contribute to financial success, you are reminded that it is the basic principles that make the biggest difference.

Baptiste says: start a project, not a company. If you think “ultralight”, your chance of launching a successful company will be that much bigger.

  • Christoff Oosthuysen supports entrepreneurs as business improver and flow coach. He is also the Publisher of Small Business Connect. Contact him through
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