I have read a number of entrepreneur books over the years, with many of them following the same pattern- a successful entrepreneur discussing how they struggled and faced challenges in the beginning, and then with some luck, a bit of careful thinking, and a strategy, they were able to push through and create a story of success.
This is exactly what I thought when I was recommended ‘The Lean Start Up’- an entrepreneur book following the classic story line and not really adding value to me. I could not have been more wrong.
In ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries, a programmer by trade, he uses his experience from his most successful business start-up, IMVU, an instant messaging service that allows people to communicate using avatars, as well as a number of entrepreneurial stories, mostly drawn from the technology industry, as a basis for his learnings.
Instead of the conventional entrepreneur book pattern, Ries outlines a scientific approach or strategy you can use based upon the idea of a lean method and the importance of testing and adjusting.
I have a degree in Business Management and one of my takeaways was that in order to start a successful business you need a detailed business plan developed from a clear vision or idea, goals and objectives, and a lot of analysis, research and strategizing. However, Ries suggests another way. He argues for the importance of experimenting and testing, suggesting its “worth more than a thousand hours of strategizing and internal analysis”. It’s about learning what your customers really want, testing your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it’s too late.
The thrust of the book is that start-ups are perceived to be much higher risk than they need to be, with entrepreneurs making the same mistakes of building elaborate products without testing them with consumers. They make decisions based upon assumptions and wrong information and stick with bad ideas way too long.
In his method, Reis focuses on the significance of a Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop, which is a lean start-up approach and can add great value by saving time and resources while developing a product and adapting their strategy around it. He suggests instead of drawing up complex business plans and strategies based upon tertiary research, assumptions and guesses, entrepreneurs should use the build-measure-learn feedback loop, which encourages you to make adjustments as you go along.
Reis argues for constant small experiments, with entrepreneurs creating a ‘Minimal Viable Product’ as soon as possible to start testing it with consumers. He equips you with a framework to help measure progress, and encourages you not to use the usual headline numbers, but to use more in-depth metrics, such as revenue growth to track changes in customer adoption, retention and usage patterns, to measure the success of a product. He provides techniques to speed up processes and build your start-up quicker and provides guidance by writing realistically about some of the issues that will come up. It is up to you then to adapt and learn based on your findings.
This book challenges conventional methods, changes how we think about innovation and entrepreneurship and encourages more of us to become entrepreneurs. It teaches you how to drive a start-up in a very simple and lean way. No need for overthinking. Come up with your vision, test it, adapt it and just go for it.
Written by Jay van den Boogaard, COO of RAW Compliance
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