Let’s be real for a moment – every startup and entrepreneur can do with as much advice for getting started as possible. At the same time, the most successful entrepreneurs are also a mountain of information and advice for existing startups or entrepreneurs who might want to hone their process.
With this in mind, Eric Ries is one of the most highly respected fountains of knowledge and someone who is always eager to pass on this important advice to startups.
Ries is the author of “The Lean Startup” which is a New York bestseller that sold more than one million copies. He is also the founder of the “Lean Startup Methodology” which has inspired many entrepreneurs to create successful businesses.
Here are five rules for successful startup founders and Entrepreneurs according to Ries:
1. Identify Information that Can Solve Tasks or Problems
Eric Ries is a firm believer that in order for startups to innovate, they must be willing to learn all the way through the process. Now, that’s not to say entrepreneurs need to take in every last word or detail along the way. Rather, they should use a process called validated learning which is one of the requirements of a successful startup.
How It’s Done – Entrepreneurs and startups need to focus on learning the right information. This should involve picking out tasks or problems and finding information that can use to solve them. With this information, you should now have actionable information that will benefit the process.
Takeaway – Find and deploy information that can solve problems or tasks.
2. Create a Minimum Viable Product Before Promotion
Ries is known for his very specific approach to a minimum viable product. In fact, he says that before marketing or promoting a product, this product absolutely needs to be tested in the market. For clarity, MVP refers to the absolutely earliest form of something that can still be considered “complete”.
As you may have gathered, Eric has a very simple reason for using MVP and advises startups that this will allow them to avoid procrastinating or trying to perfect a product or service. In fact, in the book “The Lean Startup”, Ries explains that trying to perfect a product or service before marketing or any other aspect is likely to result in the startup running out of funds.
How It’s Done – Simply put, Ries says that every entrepreneur or startup should focus on becoming their own test net. In other words, the guru advises that startups should set specific milestones and celebrate anytime the product/service passes tests related to these milestones.
Takeaway – Create a minimum viable product and put it into the market ASAP.
3. Have a Specific Process for Getting Things Done
Productivity is a key element for any startup or entrepreneur and this is certainly true for startups and entrepreneurs who simply cannot afford to waste any time. It’s important to take into consideration Ries’ past experiences with venture capital firms, startups, and mega-companies like General Electric. With this information, you can tell that the serial entrepreneur is a master when it comes to getting things done.
Eric has a somewhat different approach to productivity and says that entrepreneurs should try to focus on what they should be getting done and not what other businesses are doing. That is to say, he recommends that startups work smarter to realize their own unique strategy for productivity.
How It’s Done – Ries has an excellent strategy for productivity that involves combining the minimum viable product process with the validated learning mentioned above. He goes on to say that this combination will enable startups to get things done and learn along the way.
Takeaway – Combine MVP with validated learning to get things done.
4. Choose the Right Metrics and Think Long Term
Instead of focusing on every metric under the sun, Ries is adamant that startups should always look at the macro environment.
For example, he likes to point out that “clicks” are nowhere near as effective or beneficial as “sign-ups”. In this sense, spending a fortune on advertising or marketing strategies is pointless if you offer no real return on the investment.
How It’s Done – Interestingly, Ries says that the best way to set metrics of any kind is to tie them to people. With this in mind, you can identify the best target market for your startup. This way, you know precisely where to go when these metrics need further examination.
Takeaway – Tie metrics to people so that the business can better target its efforts.
5. Focus on Building a Car Instead of a Rocketship
As with any entrepreneur, there was a time when Eric Ries took baby steps to bring his big ideas to fruition. For this reason, Ries is always quick to say that startups should be more realistic with their goals and objectives.
In a recent interview, Ries explained this by saying that most entrepreneurs try to “build a rocket ship instead of a car” and this over-elaborate plan is most often doomed to failure. What’s more, Eric says that these companies have intricate plans that go into far too much detail. These details can end up being major problems when things don’t go to plan.
How It’s Done – Ries says that instead of these complicated plans, startups and entrepreneurs should create a feedback loop called “Build-Measure-Learn”. As you might expect, this means that the company will build something, measure its success and adjust accordingly.
Takeaway – Simplify the process and try not to digress too much on the detail.
Eric Ries is obviously an uber-successful businessman at this stage.
It’s important to understand that the above steps are taken by all entrepreneurs and startups. More specifically, it’s important to remember that Ries is an entrepreneur-in-resident at the prestigious Harvard Business School. The above advice and rules for a successful startup should not only be taken on board but also deployed at every opportunity.
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