How the Lean Principle can take your Startup to the next level

4 min read
Laura Cooper
A lego figure removing the CTRL key from a computer keyboard

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.

Customer Focus

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?

A customer in a Coffee Shop
What does your customer want?

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.

Minimum Viable Product

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.

Management and Validating Learning

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.

A huge scaffolding tower
A stringent methodological framework

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.

Nutshell

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.

The Lean Principle is about listening to customers before and during product development and building and testing your product with them in mind.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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