Book cover of “The Lean Startup”.

tl;dr: I haven’t read yet The Lean Startup book, but instead I read an article from someone who is referencing it while talking about how he “failed his startup”. Truly and deeply inspiring.

I recently read this article in French from someone who shared his learnings and thoughts about, according to him: How did I fail my first startup after 10 years of existence?. Really impressive courage to share such learnings about rapid success, “failures”, ups-and-downs, etc. Throughout this article there is a lot of references to The Lean Startup, so this current blog article is more a note to myself to make sure I’m adding it in my todo list. In the meantime, here are few notes I captured.

How today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses.

Principles of The Lean Startup:

  1. Entrepreneurs are Everywhere
  2. Entrepreneurship is Management
  3. Validated Learning
  4. Innovation Accounting
  5. Build-Measure-Learn

The Lean Startup is about building a startup and a product by iterations and find the Product Market fit: launch a minimal offer, test it on a market with early adopters, adjust the product, and do this again until finding the best idea to sell. At each step, the goal is to use the minimum of resources and efforts to avoid having an important and too early cash burn and making sure you are not building a product no one will use/buy.

Think big, Start small

There is this principle of Fake it until you can make it commonly used from the startups in the Silicon Valley. It’s not about lying to your customers but you need to know how to sell an idea before you actually have a product. The strategy here is to valdiate people will use and need your product. For this you will setup a proof of concept, here come the notion of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). There is different types of MVP, for example:

  • Email: introduce your product by email and measure if there is interest
  • Video: show a video illustrating the features of your product (even if it doesn’t exist)
  • Wizard of OZ: simulate that everything is automated (even if it’s not yet in place)

The author also called out that it’s important (especially with B2B but not only) to make sure you have long contracts in place with your customers and partners (ideally 3 years). It will help secure pipelines and payments. Furthermore, a contract is not real until it’s signed, even if your customers and partners are happy, enthusiastic, excited, friendly, etc.

Another aspect the author mentions is about how to keep focusing on the original plan of the startup and the product while being flexible and agile by adapting the product through the iterations. The build, mesure and learn culture is important, even if you made it to the Scale phase after the Product Market fit. Sometimes you will take opportunities to adjust your product based on customers asks, but sometimes you will say “no” to others to keep the focus.

I think, both the article I read and the book I will buy and read, are for anyone and not just for startups. Any company could find Startup-like style products, projects or initiatives and anyone could apply associated empirical (based on experience) tips and lessons learned. I’m a true believer of intrapreuneurhip which is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization. So such resources are really inspirational.

Hope you enjoyed this one, cheers!