Imagine having the refined ability to turn an idea into a reality. This is a challenge that many companies and business owners dedicate their life’s work to accomplish. Steve Blank, an inspiring entrepreneur, author, startup advisor and teacher, developed the Lean Startup Movement to help companies address this challenge.
After retiring, Blank set out to focus on his book Four Steps to the Epiphany. His book explores the building blocks necessary to launch an early stage company. It reflects upon Blank’s experience as a co-founder of Epiphany Company, two additional startups and a workstation tech company. Blank also spends his time contributing weekly articles to the Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. The Harvard Business Review listed him as one of the “Masters of Innovation” in 2012, and Forbes named him one of the “30 Most Influential People in Tech” in 2013.
The Lean Startup Movement expands beyond the decades-old formula of a business plan, where the focus is on introducing a product or service and then attempting to sell as much as possible. Through this traditional formula, companies and business owners cannot legitimize their plans and ideas. They get caught up on the idea itself without focusing on their top resource, their consumers. By shifting the primary focus to the consumer, Blank has developed a model that diminishes risk and helps to avoid unforeseen setbacks and roadblocks.
Blank’s methodology can be taught to anyone. The “Build, Measure, Learn” strategy he teaches encourages the thorough mapping out of a business plan. Similar to the scientific method, it starts with the purpose, followed by a hypothesis, experimentation, gathering of information and analysis of results. The ultimate goal is to form a conclusion. With this methodology, business owners and companies can begin turning assumptions into solid facts.
The three key principles of Blank’s methods are:
- Create a vision establishing how the company will be valuable to the customer, yet still be profitable. For example, reaching one million followers on Twitter insinuates value.
- The next principle is customer development. This involves soliciting feedback from consumers on all aspects of the business model, including price, features and distribution channels. Once input is gathered, revise the plan and repeat the cycle.
- The final principle is “agile development”. To save resources and time, lean startups develop the product in increments and continuously test and improve as needed using constant customer feedback.
The Lean Startup methodology is making a meaningful impact as start-ups are applying “validated learning” to overcome common obstacles and diminish the risk of failure. As the practice spreads, larger and more established companies are starting to recognize its many benefits and embracing the movement for their own initiatives. Be sure to stay tuned as we re-publish our favorite work of his in the week ahead.