The Lean Startup has become somewhat of a bible for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but it’s still largely and fundamentally misunderstood as a streamlined, flexible (and lean) business model. If you haven’t yet read the Lean Startup by Eric Ries, the concept is this: while traditional start-ups spend absorbent amounts of time writing long business plans, raising early funding, and building initial prototypes, this model promotes startups that constantly learn and iterate around a minimal viable product. By constantly tweaking, or occasionally pivoting the product, service, and business model in response to early customer feedback, startups can improve their likelihood of success or at least fail faster and cheaper.
With this model, there are a few ways a business can “cut fat” and focus on the essentials to allow the systematic improvement and success of a product. Let’s take a look.
1. Define A Plan
You may be thinking this is true for any business. It is. However, when cutting the fat you’ll want to streamline this plan to include a process for testing hypothesis. It’s equally important to define both the “what” and the “how” by outlining a pipeline of potential people and companies that can validate/invalidate your assumptions, and with specific time frames allotted to each one. Also, define metrics that allow you to judge progress over time. The Lean Startup suggests the Validation Board for this very purpose.
2. Listen to your Consumer
Customer-centric, listening attitude is what you need for your plan to succeed. Don’t be scared to “get out of the building” and engage with the ones you aim to reach by either talking in person, employing usability testing, or even through analytics – LISTEN and adjust your MVP accordingly…
3. Let your MVP soar
Simplicity is the key allowing your Minimally Viable Product to fly. Measure every interaction with the product so that you can go back and make it even simpler. It is difficult for a start-up to truly distinguish a product, so customization and simplification are keys to hit the floor. For building web applications from scratch or designing user-friendly intuitive apps, Ruby on Rails is a tremendous asset to streamline the process and allow for testing.
4. Take Action, Monitor Reaction
Lean innovation and disruption is based in action. You need to keep doing your bit and monitor the reactions. Fortunately, technology and tools have made validating a MVP and product, and putting it in front of real customers is relatively a no-brainer kind of affair, but the DOING seems to be holding some of us back.
5. Decrease process time
This mentality should be applied to all areas of your business plan. If you’re debating a point for more than 30 minutes, take a vote and take action without fear. Using the right web development platform will help you promote the rapid prototyping methodology and stay agile.
6. Cloud Computing
Traditionally startups spend a lot of money upfront to get things going, without seeing much return until later years. Cloud computing facilitates constant feedback loop in the early stages, and helps keep a check in your budget.
7. Budget Your Marketing
When it comes to marketing your product, distribute and sample your goods thoughtfully and to the right people. Stick to the basics and build on your network. This frugal mentality should not only be saved for marketing, but get your whole business back to basics to keep within the lean mentality.
Follow me on Twitter