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90% of all startups will fail. Founding a startup is an attractive thing to do. However, actually creating something that people are willing to pay for is another story. The good news is that many failures in startups are preventable. So, how can using Lean Start-Up change how you do business forever?
About 10 years ago, Eric Ries wrote a book called The Lean Startup. This book has now become a bible for startup founders and business executives around the world.
In today’s episode, we’re going to dive into the ins and outs of The Lean Startup. What is it? What are the three key methods you need to know? And how to get started with Lean Startup today?
People generally hesitate to share their startup ideas in public, even amongst their friends and family. There is often a niggling fear that someone may steal their idea. But you know what? It takes so much effort to bring an idea to life.
An individual idea is just not that great unless you do something. As with everything, if you have a strategic master plan or a proper model to follow that’s worked for others, the chances of making your product or project a success can be significantly increased. This is really because you take a rational and systematic approach to find the best strategy to build and run your business.
It’s all in the execution, and we’re going to focus on this alone today.
Lean Startup is a methodology or, for some, a way of life. Lean Startup was inspired by the lean manufacturing revolution developed by Toyota. (Please check out our episode about agile and scrum to learn more about this).
The Lean Startup methodology is about learning what your customers really want and learning it quickly. It’s about continuously testing what you think your customers want. It is about adapting based on these results, and doing this before you run out of money.
There are so many business methodologies out there, but there is no one that fits all. If you’re looking to build a product or a business and grow it, go to someone that has been in the startup game for a while. Lean Startup is a solid approach to use to build a product. You need to know three things to get your Lean Startup game on:
Planning and forecasting are only useful when operations have been rather stable, and where the environment you’re working in is quite static. Startups and new businesses unfortunately don’t have either of these. Planning several months ahead and releasing a product only after thousands of hours, perfecting every little piece, is a high-risk business. What if you build something that nobody wants, and something that no one really will pay for?
Too much planning makes a process rigid and risky. Too much chaos and a just-freaking-do-it attitude are also too risky. The middle way is the only way if you want to build a solid business.
Designing short ‘build – measure – learn feedback loops’ will help you figure out exactly what your customers need, so you’ll know what to build first. It’s all about killing your darlings and removing everything that doesn’t make sense to build right now.
We start with understanding what we want to learn first. For example, writing up a hypothesis about what we want to test.
We need to understand what our customers’ needs are and whether they are willing to pay for our product. But how do we do this?
It’s all about running experiments with real and potential customers. Customers don’t normally know what they want. We need to observe the customer and not ask them directly. This is called validated learning.
Before you begin, ask yourself: “do I even have to build anything at all?” An experiment for a product or service can be as simple as setting up a landing page or social media page with a claim that’s connected to your hypothesis. For example, Product X will help grow your newsletter signups by five hundred percent. Use good Google Ad Words to drive some traffic to your page, and see how many people are willing to buy the service.
In other experiments, you need to create an MVP, which is a ‘minimal viable product’. You’re creating a product that has the absolutely bare minimum of features that are of utter importance. You should aim for proving your hypothesis when building your MVP.
Eric Ries says there are three types of MVPs: the video MVP, the concierge MVP, and the Wizard of Oz MVP.
The video MVP is an awesome example of doing the bare minimum, actually not creating anything at all. The video MVP would be a film of what your product is all about before you’ve built it. You would publish this video to the target audience that you’re testing.
The concierge MVP is about focusing on a single customer, or only a few customers, and developing a product for them. It’s a slower way of developing an MVP, but it means you’re tailor-fitting and adapting a product to fit a real person. It’s more likely if one person in your target group loves your product, others will.
Finally, the Wizard of Oz MVP is all about creating a product that’s driven by humans before it’s digitalized and automated.
So that’s all for me today! I hope you’ve got enough information to understand what Lean Startup is and how to get started with this methodology today.
Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress. – Seth Godin
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