Every entrepreneur has at least heard of the Lean Startup. It’s a methodology developed and popularized by Eric Ries starting in 2008. Since then, the Lean Startup has assisted countless businesses to get off the ground since it reduces market risk and avoids the need to take out large amounts of money.
While initially developed with tech startups in mind, the Lean Startup methodology has been used by entrepreneurs in industries across the board of all and any type of business because the system can effectively help a company launch and grow – especially through these four ways.
- “Is this idea sustainable?”
A lot of entrepreneurs are hesitant and fearful about sharing their ideas with others. While I understand that there are concerns, such as someone else stealing your idea, the fact is that you have to get your idea out there as soon as possible. Before you invest too much time and money in your startup, you need to ask questions like, “Can this product or business actually be built?” and “Can we build a sustainable business around these products and services?”
Even after you get started, keep gathering feedback from your target audience to find out what customers like and dislike. Even Sam Walton used to stand in the parking lot of certain Wal-Marts so that he could be in a position to ask his customers all kinds of questions in order to improve their experience in his stores. Today, you can send out surveys, test landing pages, or even launch a Kickstarter campaign to validate an idea.
- Embrace the ‘minimum viable product’ strategy.
If you’re read the Lean Startup, then you should be familiar with the build-measure-learn feedback loop. This core component includes, “figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible.” Once you have established an MVP, you can begin to measure, learn, and set actionable metrics “that can demonstrate cause and effect question.”
“I found the ‘minimum viable product’ strategy to be the most helpful. Before ordering a product, we set up the web page to see if people were even interested in something like this,” says Peter Sanchez, Founder of Elf Boxes.
“After we launched a basic version of the website (concierge model for ordering) which was the minimum viable product, we tested different ordering packages and pricing packages to arrive at what we are using now. As it’s grown we are making changes to the model and website and will soon add the ability to take credit cards and schedule a delivery pickup using the website, without human interaction.”
- Find and build an All-Star Team.
Your idea and business model are going to change over time. You may even decide to pivot and completely overhaul your business.
What you want to work toward is how to keep and not keep changing the amazing people that you’re surrounded by.
Ultimately, the failure or success of your startup will depend on the team that you’ve assembled. It’s your team that will make your idea a reality, bring in new ideas, and becomes your first advocates. Not to mention, constantly swapping team members is a serious waste of time and money.
When constructing your team, be sure to consider the following;
- Identify the essential positions that you need to get your startup rolling.
- Weigh the pros and cons of hiring full-time and part-time employees.
- Identify the perfect candidates based on criteria like experience and how they view your product or service.
- Prepare to interview the candidates.
- Conduct a post-hire assessment.
- Be flexible.
As mentioned previously, it’s important that you keep receiving feedback. This feedback is going to greatly influence your products, services, and business altogether so much that you may have to change. And, that’s OK.
Even though you believe that you have an ingenious idea that everyone will love, you may quickly discover that this is not the case. Remember, you want a business that is going to be sustainable over the long-term. And that means that you may have to give up on your original idea. Of course, with an awesome team behind you, this really isn’t as devastating as it sounds. After-all, Twitter, Pinterest, Groupon, Android, and Nokia have all pivoted only to find success.