The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
This book is more than a page turner, it is a community, a movement and a method, and it has had significant impact on the startup environment of our time. In “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” Eric Ries reaches beyond conventional thinking to create a systemic, scientifically based channel for entrepreneurial success. The method he offers has proved to be a game-changer for many of those striving to build companies and launch products. I recommend this book to entrepreneurs, managers and everyone just thinking about how to bring a novel concept to the world. Even though the title includes the word “startup” the book truly is a manual for all entrepreneurs, whether members of mega corporations, small enterprises, or a one-person business.
Failure is Just the Beginning
Eric Ries has three startups under his belt. His first launch was Catalyst Recruiting which ultimately failed. Ries says that he took away from this experience the necessity of being more aware of customer needs and spending less time on product launch. After Catalyst, he founded There, Inc. which also invested considerable resources into a failed product launch. Ries says that the critical error in both startups was the approach. Both companies worked from the point of technology forward rather than from the business goal and objectives backward.
The Market Should Come before the Idea
The Lean Startup paradigm is based on three discovery points: (1) startups invest considerable time and resources to develop products before they fully understand the needs of their target consumer base, (2) decision-making is based on shaky information, and (3) companies don’t pull out quickly enough when the idea is not working. Lean Startup is about beginning small, constantly testing every aspect of the business model and product or service, and using the results to decide whether it is time to change direction. It is about letting scientific discovery guide these decisions rather than emotion.
Discover the Facts and Use them to Grow
Ries’s method takes us into the present, that murky place between the past and the future where we need to quickly decide whether we will stay on course or pivot to a new one. Rather than accept the adage that most startups tend to fail, he counters with a radical approach to creating and managing startups. He suggests a number of counterintuitive approaches, for example, one should invest more time in customer interface optimization and spend less time on product development and rollout. Ries believes in constant down to earth analysis of relevant metrics. Business building is about learning and applying the lessons you have learned on the go. It’s important to use scientific measurement tools so that adjustments can be made in real time and before poor performance becomes endemic, making a turn-around impossible. Entrepreneurs need to be alert and agile, attentive to their target audience and general market, ready to make changes to fit the unfolding global environment
Learning from Others
The Lean Startup presents fascinating stories that bring to life the principles of the paradigm. It goes beyond the elementary understanding of how to successfully create more startups, to the heart of the matter—how to learn from these startups to improve our business practices, how to quickly gather knowledge on what is working and improve by discarding what is not without losing time and resources. Ries encourages us not to be afraid of failure, to let go of our perfectionism tendencies and devotion to our initial idea in order to move forward through the fog of uncertainty, and succeed.