Eric Ries is not only the author of New York bestseller ‘The Lean Startup” but also CEO of the Long-Term Stock Exchange and founder of multiple startups. What’s more, he has acted as a personal advisor to countless successful businesses and his methodology has been adopted by many top companies around the world.
But how has the advice in his book aged since 2011?
In this article, we take a look at some of the founding principles in the Lean Startup and how they might have changed in the nine years since the book was published:
Eric Ries: How “The Lean Startup” has changed since 2011
1. Minimum Viable Product: Research Before Creating an MVP
Creating a minimum viable product is still important. This refers to the simplest form of a product that you can consider a finished concept. It’s true, many startups in particular get caught up in the process of perfecting ideas without actually testing their product.
However, at a time when so many brands or products are in competition against each other, just as many entrepreneurs seem to get caught up in the wrong race. Creating a minimum viable product is not just about hope or throwing caution to the wind. Adequate market research is always necessary before producing even the simplest of products or service.
What to Do Before Creating a Minimum Viable Product in 2021:
Given that consumer behaviour has changed dramatically amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more important than ever before to do research before you launch your MVP. As a result of global lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, the average person’s income has taken a hit. For this reason, 75% of American consumers have switched from their preferred brand. Since people are restricting their spending, you need to make sure that people need the product you’re developing before you actually launch it.
2. Taking Charge is Not Always the Right Decision
In the Lean Startup, Eric Ries points out that nobody is in charge, when everyone is in charge. While the author is also quick to say that ‘stepping on toes’ should not need to happen. It’s clear that the general advice is to be the boss and make sure that everyone knows that you are the boss.
On the other hand, it should go without saying that the founder of a startup is the boss. More specifically, good employees will simply not go against the wishes of this leader and if they do, they are likely a bad fit for a company in the first place.
Anyway, the point is, ruling with an iron fist is rarely a good idea and this is certainly true in modern-day business. People appreciate freedom more than ever and this sense of autonomy is also a good thing in terms of getting the best performance out of everyone involved.
What to do About Leadership and Decisions in 2021:
Eric Ries says every business adopts a different style of leadership but taking charge is only appreciated when others struggle for direction. With this in mind, it’s not such a bad thing to spread power throughout the organization and allow this authority to work in favour of the business. In fact, many of the most successful businesses in recent times have taken this approach and benefited from it in the process.
3. Solving Problems by Building Upon Existing Concepts
For many readers, another takeaway from the Lean Startup is to focus on solving specific problems. In other words, Ries urges startups to identify what troubles the customer and create something to address this problem. It makes a lot of sense, and even today this point is entirely valid.
At the same time, this can also detract from the fact that existing products or concepts are successful for a reason. That is to say, sometimes building upon an existing idea is a much better option than creating an entirely new concept to address whatever the problem at hand might be.
What to Do About Solving Problems in 2021:
Improving an existing concept is not a bad idea but re-inventing the wheel is a pointless task. What’s more, taking this approach requires less time and less guesswork in terms of the target market.
4. Taking Small Steps to Build Big Products
Eric Ries likes to emphasize the importance of taking small steps and this is certainly still valid for new businesses. However, this can also be misconstrued as meaning that big ideas or grand concepts should be avoided. On the contrary, Ries simply means that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and the small steps cannot be ignored at the expense of the bigger picture.
For this reason, it’s important for readers to not come away from the Lean Startup thinking that they need to downsize their project. Instead, the business will be better served by planning for the long term but then focusing on the short term.
What to Do About Planning in 2021:
This should really go without saying but startups should not be afraid to pursue their ambition. Furthermore, new businesses that have a long-term goal in mind are much better positioned to plan on a micro-level.
5. Analytics and Customer Feedback
Ries talks about the importance of data a lot in the book and why collecting this information should be an ongoing effort. For the most part, it’s easier to improve or identify problems within a business when you measure results. Also, this data is crucial when it comes to identifying trends or opportunities.
Now, that’s not to say that talking with these customers is any less important. After all, this kind of feedback is often more telling than any amount of analytics. For example, how do customers feel about your product? It’s difficult to decipher an emotional sense of connection through analytics alone.
What to Do About Analytics and Feedback in 2021:
As you should know, Google Analytics is one of many tools that can be used to collect this data and this process is essential for growth and feedback. What’s more, artificial intelligence is on the rise and the chatbot industry is booming. While these bots are fantastic for automating things like customer service, they are equally good in terms of gathering important information. For this reason, AI and chatbots in particular can be used to collect data and assess how the customer really feels about what you do.
Overall, the Lean Startup is just as powerful as ever and unlikely to lose much relevance in the coming decades. On the other hand, trends are certain to evolve during this time and taking a flexible approach to the book is much more likely to help those who use this methodology.
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