What are two of the biggest hurdles in budding entrepreneurs way when they want to launch their new kickass startup? Chances are it’s these two big-dawgs – time and money. If an idea needs massive amounts of funding and it’s going to have a super-long development time, then ideas can lose their sparkle and the people behind them can lose their gumption.
So, what about developing your product with your customer in mind from the very beginning, instead of spending time and money on expensive project launches and aimless marketing strategy for a product you don’t even know people want?
Eric Ries is the guy behind the Lean Principle, which is an ideal way for entrepreneurs and startups to grow their business using scientific approaches and management.
The Lean Principle is about listening to customers before and during product development and building and testing your product with them in mind.
Meeting your potential customers, introducing them to your ideas and involving them in your product development process are critical parts of the Lean Principle. What does your customer want, what do they need and how can you meet their demands?
Find a way to address this demand with as little amount of resource as possible. This is where your Minimum Viable Product comes in, or let’s call it MVP, because we’re all friends here now.
Creating your MVP is all about putting together a product that you can show to customers that will let you collect important insight, with the least amount of effort in terms of product development. You can launch a product with the minimum amount of features that it needs to function. You’ll need to adopt the build-measure-learn feedback loop, to gain as much understanding as possible. An MVP is the first step.
Your product won’t be fully formed yet, but the basic principles will be the same and you can collect valuable feedback. You can use your MVP to test ideas, experiment and apply metrics to measure if you need to tweak your product.
Or you might need to pivot, which basically means fundamentally changing your idea or the vision behind your product to meet a new demand.
It’s really important that startups don’t take a ‘just do it’ approach…unless they’re Nike of course. There needs to be a management process in place and the Lean Principle helps to put this in place by emphasising the need for a stringent methodological framework that constantly tests a product at every stage.
Validating Learning means using actionable metrics to test and analyse your product. What are you going to use to measure the success of a product by? You could choose high engagement, viral coefficient, or long-term retention, but you need to find elements that can help you to grow, instead of just confirming your own biases.
Experimenting should be the bedrock of your strategy. You can tweak your product plans incrementally with data-driven ideas, instead of blindly following a product development plan that has no empirical evidence to back it up, a lack of clear objectives and a disconnect with potential customers.
You can carry out tests using fancy sounding mechanisms like split testing, usability tests and cohort analysis. This will let you have analysis and data behind whatever moves you make next, instead of making assertions with no proof, which will be harder to pitch with.
Making your startup lean is about channelling your time into making your product attractive to potential, early customers by testing and experimenting. You can streamline and shorten your product development cycle and reduce the amount of funding and time you need to get your product into customer’s hands and get feedback. This means you can tweak, change and pivot if necessary, so your product is driven by the needs of the customer and backed up by data.
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