How To Operate a Lean Startup: 4 Tips For Entrepreneurs

lean startup


The Wikipedia definition of a lean startup reads thus: “Lean startup is a methodology for developing businesses and products. The methodology aims to shorten product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.”

My guess is that you’re scratching your head and asking “so….what does all that even mean?”

In a nutshell, a lean startup is a method of operation that takes significant risk out of the process of starting a company.

Unlike the old, popular means of coming up with an idea, pitching to investors, getting capital and then starting to build a version 1.0 of your product or service, the concept of a lean startup takes a different approach. Experimenting, relying on feedback of customers instead of your own instincts and constantly redesigning your product as you try to find the best fit are the way of the lean startup. Fail fast and continue learning is the M.O here.

The point of going lean is to help startups to shorten their product development cycles, and spend their time, money and other resources in the most effective way possible.

Here are 4 tips to running a truly lean startup.

  1. Don’t make a business plan:
    The traditional means of starting a business first involved months and months of planning. Then a business plan was drawn up, which outlined the problem, a proposed solution and forecasts about income, profits, etc etc… but like the popular war saying goes, “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” So rather than drawing up a business plan, keep in mind that all you have before starting out are several good guesses about what your would-be customers like and don’t like, how spending would go, where you will concentrate your efforts and so on. Put these guesses down on paper (on your business model canvas) – basically state how you intend to create value for both your startup and your customers.
  1. Feedback is important:
    In order to properly run lean, you must talk to your customers in person after releasing the first quickly-prepared version of your product. Ask them questions about everything concerning the product: its pricing, delivery, presentation and others. You must focus on building the next version as fast as possible and making all the necessary adjustments you decide are needed based on customer feedback. The loop here is “build, get feedback, repeat”.
  1. Accept failure, but always ask “WHY?”:
    It is only wise to accept failure if you’re running a startup. The chances are that most of your experiments and guesses would be off the mark, and your initial product or service would most likely flop. When you encounter a failure, however always ask why? Being inquisitive is the only way you can discover where and where you need to change.
  1. Work with numbers:
    Numbers don’t lie, so always use them when making evaluations. Questions like “Am i making progress?” and “What works and what doesn’t?” must be answered with data(either qualitative or quantitative).

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