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Everything You’ve Wanted to Know But Have Been Too Afraid To Ask (The Lean Startup) Part 1

Everything You’ve Wanted to Know But Have Been Too Afraid To Ask (The Lean Startup) Part 1

Many of you ask us, ‘What is Lean Start-up?’ and almost as many follow up with the question, ‘Why should I care?’

While many people know start-ups like ride-sharing service Uber and accommodation sharing website Airbnb, many don’t know that what spawned these game-changing companies can also work for their own businesses.

Whether you’re managing a small to mid-sized business, an enterprise or are in the public sector, ‘Lean Start-up’ principles help you to validate your ideas to deliver exactly what your customers want. The principles are universal and work across any sector or type of business.

Here’s a typical first conversation we might have with someone who comes to us to learn about how to make their business smarter and more customer-focused using Lean Start-up.

What is Lean Start-up? The concept originated with US start-ups and works on the principle they don’t have much money, time or resources before it’s all spent in pursuit of their goal. They’re launching an entirely new concept or venture and working with a hypothetical proposition. Start-ups must validate a lot of guesswork to prove their assumptions are correct before they run out of steam. They do this by systematically testing their assumptions in experiments, delivered in the most time, cost and effort effective way possible.

What can Lean Start-up do for me? It emboldens you to try out new ideas in a way that doesn’t risk the bank. You can validate your ideas in the real world at low or no cost, financially or to your brand.

But I’m in a business with a cumbersome culture; can I still use it? Absolutely. Lean Start-up allows you to fly below the radar to try out small but significant experiments that won’t upset your stakeholders. You can work outside your regular channels to test your assumptions and find new opportunities.

OK how do I get started? Pick your most promising idea and assign a small band of ‘merry men and women’ keen to work on it in their own time. Ask them to figure out the fundamental assumption that holds everything together. For instance, will customers be attracted to your new venture? Then ask your group to build a minimum viable product (MVP) that reflects their core assumption and allows them to test it outside the four walls of your building with real customers.

How do we bring customers along without scaring them? Put customers front and centre. Choose those who are receptive early-adopters and earnestly say to them, “We want your opinion, we’re building this for you and we want you to benefit”. Say you value their input and want to build the solution with them from the ground up. People respond well to hearing a partner ask them what they want at the start of a journey rather than have a product imposed on them based on assumptions that might not be accurate.

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