Brian chats with LaSean Smith, a software developer and business creator on a mission to help businesses and business owners succeed. LaSean spent more than a decade as a software executive at Amazon and Microsoft, where he uncovered patterns to use process as a tool to win in business more often. He now uses those insights to help entrepreneurs launch and sustain bootstrapped businesses.
On the episode, LaSean digs deep into what it means to have a values-based business and why owning a business is the most predictable way to achieve financial independence. He also outlines the three-step process that can help any business serving a healthy market to reach $2 million in revenue in five years.
Mission-driven businesses are values-based businesses.
LaSean believes that values are the foundation of a successful business. Mission-driven businesses don’t just identify their values, but they also live and breathe them even when times get tough.
“Increasingly, customers are seeking out companies that stand for something,” LaSean said. “If you really want to be a values-driven business, you have to be willing to go out of business to protect those values.”
Move fast or rescope.
How fast you iterate is requisite for building a business, according to LaSean. While big businesses move in months and medium-sized businesses move in weeks, a budding entrepreneur needs to move in a matter of hours. If you can’t break the process down and move that quickly, rescope and reconsider how you’re tackling your problems.
“You have to move that fast because you’re trying to compound faster than anyone else,” LaSean said. “Your doubling rate is critical when you’re starting a business.”
Find your audience first.
Rather than starting a business by building a product, LaSean first recommends focusing on your audience. By talking to 100 potential customers upfront, you can gain valuable insights from the people who will ultimately buy your product or service.
“A market requires that you have an audience of people who have a shared problem that is urgent, that is painful and reoccurring, and they have the willingness to find the means to financially pay to solve that problem,” he said.
Audit your life’s minutes.
For more than two years, LaSean has journaled his life through a calendar. Three times per day, he inputs what he’s done so far that day into his digital calendar as an exercise to be more intentional with his time. He challenges others to do the same exercise for 30 days.
“Challenge yourself for 30 days to journal and see how you are spending your time,” he said. “Audit the books of your life minutes and see if there’s a disconnect between where you say you want to go and how you’re actually spending those minutes.”
Resources + Links
The Four Burners Theory: The Downside of Work-Life Balance by James Clear
“Fortunes require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media).” — Naval Ravikant (@naval)
Louder Than Words by Todd Henry
About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast
Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.
On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.