The Lean Start-up is an interesting concept from the brain of Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author; he authors a blog and has written a very popular book by the same name. He espouses the idea of streamlining your start-up’s focus to deliver the desired product to the right audience. And then to use that audience to perfect your offering.
Lean is not about money necessarily – though the aim is to do without large amounts of seed money – but about the best use of resources to accomplish your company’s goals.
Shortening the time between the conception of an idea/offering and the roll-out requires a very focused plan. When you reach your target audience and address their wants, you reduce the need to constantly test and retest endless designs before ever seeing an actual sale.
Validated learning is an important aspect of the Lean Start-up. With this idea, you identify a goal (example: selling flowers online), specify a measurement to represent the goal (How many flowers can I sell online in a month?), act to achieve the goal (Offer five popular flowers in arrangements on your website), analyze the results (How many flowers did you sell? What was the customer feedback on your offerings?), then offer improvements to try and reach your next goal.
Instead of rolling out a hundred options on a large website, the concept is to start smaller and more efficiently – without wasting time and money on things a customer does not want. If initial customers have zero interest in arrangements with lilacs but can’t get enough of your sweetheart roses, you’ve made an important discovery about the next step for your business.
This is a simple example but it can be applied to most everything a start-up might be trying to sell.
Customer feedback is the lifeblood of this idea – let them tell you what they want, what they’re willing to pay for and why they’ll come back to you. By utilizing this information from the customer, a start-up won’t waste time (and resources) by designing or implementing features or services that will add no value to their offering in the long run.
A start-up can also benefit from not having all their eggs be in one basket when it comes to the initial roll-out. By using a continuous deployment process, a start-up can release improved versions of their products, using customer feedback to improve and adapt. It’s like a live action lab – testing and making money at the same time.
The Lean Start-up can also benefit from a divergent idea of tradition hiring; by not employing full-time staff, you can also adapt your human resource needs by the feedback you receive as the roll-out happens. By using external development resources – which can be used on demand – and having a part-time CTO, (which is sometimes called On Demand CTO or Part Time CTO)you can also bridge the gaps between requirement and the functional and technical aspects. This saves resources and time, by taking on the people you need – not the ones you assume you will.