Common Misconceptions of “The Lean Startup” and “The 4-Hour Workweek” – what to do in 2019
If you suspect that “The Lean Startup” is about creating a business on the cheap, think again. It’s just one of many misconceptions that seem to be wrongly associated with the title. On the contrary, this book by Eric Ries offers an insightful strategy for businesses that want to grow in the shortest time span possible.
Meanwhile, “The 4-Hour Workweek” (4HWW) is regarded as the Bible of lifestyle design and the ultimate getting-started book for digital nomads and entrepreneurs. On the flip-side, it’s not really about working only 4-hours per week and that’s precisely where the misconceptions start for this book by Tim Ferriss.
In this article, we take a look through some of the most common misconceptions in these two books and what the authors really had in mind when putting these invaluable resources together:
1. You Only Need to Work 4-Hours Per Week (4HWW)
When you finally sit down and read the entire book, you should realize that the 4HWW is not about working less. More specifically, this is an outline of how to optimize your time and maximize your output per hour. In many ways, you could also call this a blueprint for creating the ultimate life-work balance.
Tim Ferriss is also quick to highlight this for readers and warn against the risk of working like crazy for little reward. What’s more, the author says that the worst thing one can do is trade all your time for money and hold off on doing interesting things until “someday” or later on in general.
In reality, most digital nomads, entrepreneurs or freelancers end up working more than most people. It might sound a little counter-intuitive but the truth is, when you focus on something that you enjoy, working these long hours is not as much of an issue for most people.
Takeaway – The 4HWW is more about productivity and finding the right balance that enables one to do that things they enjoy.
2. You Will Need to Travel to Master the Perfect Lifestyle (4HWW)
For many people, they first came across the 4HWW while traveling the world. After all, Ferriss talks about the joys of travel so often in the book. It’s also true that working online allows one to travel almost anywhere in the world and this is often what excites people about chasing this lifestyle in the first place.
However, you absolutely do not need to travel in order to achieve the ideal lifestyle. In fact, some people have no interest in travel and simply want to follow a passion or enjoy the freedom that comes with working for themselves. On the other hand, it should be said that travel is often a cheaper way to keep expenses down during the startup phase as certain destinations are less expensive than others.
Takeaway – The 4HWW is not about travel and more concerned with creating a suitable balance for each individual.
3. Outsourcing is the Key to Success (4HWW)
While Tim was one of the first people to introduce the masses to outsourcing, this also seems to have given many people the wrong perception of starting a business. That is to say, it’s never simply a case of opening a business and getting someone else to do the work. It’s also a sign of poor judgment and even laziness for someone to think that starting any business is really that simple.
In reality, when you start a business, you often need to do all the work yourself. While certain tasks can be outsourced along the way, these are often minor jobs due to the cost of getting someone else to do this work for you. As if that’s not enough, even when you outsource work, you still need to manage another person and many entrepreneurs find this even more frustrating or time-consuming than anything else.
Takeaway – Outsourcing is most often something to think about when the company is established and for the best results, you will need to do the actual work in the beginning.
4. Your MVP is Just a Test-Run (The Lean Startup)
Many inexperienced founders can misinterpret the meaning of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Instead of using this as a means to test a well-researched product, they mistake this as an opportunity to fail.
Now, that’s not to say failure is avoidable but rather to point out that successful startups put an immense amount of time and effort into creating this MVP.
It’s true, startups can learn from this process while saving on time and resources. However, the ideal scenario is to get things right first time around instead of relying on improvements to succeed.
In the words of the author: “Experiments are only as good as your vision”.
Takeaway – Your hypothesis is everything to creating a decent MVP and the fewer attempts you need at this process, the more time and money you will save in the process.
5. The Lean Startup is Some Kind of License to Fail (The Lean Startup)
It sounds like a nice way to justify failure but “Fail fast” is a cliché that Eric Ries has lamented in the past. You see, some startups think about the Lean Startup like some kind of license to fail when in reality, this point in the book is about perseverance and knowing that failure does not necessarily mean the end.
At the core of Ries’ methods, you should also find that he is trying to encourage people to take risks and change hypothesis when something does not work. Simply put, as long as the practitioner is learning from the experience and making changes accordingly, it’s okay to fail from time to time.
Takeaway – The goal is not to fail but rather to learn from failure if and when it happens.
6. The Lean Method is Just for Small Companies (The Lean Startup)
Scaling a business still requires a great deal of capital and this is true even when the infrastructure is quite bare in nature. You can see this with some of the major websites out there such as Airbnb which was essentially just a single web-page when it started out.
In truth, the Lean Startup can reduce expenditure and enable bigger companies to create a much better return on investment for their finances. It should go without saying that poor cash flow is the main reason why most startups fail and the Lean method can drastically reduce any associated risks in this regard.
Takeaway – The Lean Startup is applicable to any business in every industry, regardless of size.
While certain elements of these books have evolved in recent years, most of these methods and teachings are still just as valuable as ever. At the same time, it’s important not to misconstrue this information and understand the true meaning of both the Lean Startup and the 4-Hour Work Week.