- PDF eBook: 296 pages
- Author: Eric Ries
- Published: 2011
How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
From the book’s Introduction:
THE LEAN STARTUP METHOD
This is a business strategy for a startup book for entrepreneurs and the people who hold them accountable. The five principles of the Lean Startup, which inform all three parts of this book, are as follows:
1. Entrepreneurs are everywhere. You don’t have to work in a garage to be in a startup. The concept of entrepreneurship includes anyone who works within my definition of a startup: a human
institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty. That means entrepreneurs are everywhere and the Lean Startup approach can work in any size company, even a very large enterprise, in any sector or industry.
2. Entrepreneurship is management. A startup is an institution, not just a product, and so it requires a new kind of management specifically geared to its context of extreme uncertainty. In fact, as I will argue later, I believe “entrepreneur” should be considered a will argue later, I believe “entrepreneur” should be considered a job title in all modern companies that depend on innovation for their future growth.
3. Validated learning. Startups exist not just to make stuff, make money, or even serve customers. They exist to learn how to build a sustainable business. This learning can be validated scientifically by running frequent experiments that allow entrepreneurs to test each element of their vision.
4. Build-Measure-Learn. The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere. All successful startup processes should be geared to accelerate that feedback loop.
5. Innovation accounting. To improve entrepreneurial outcomes and hold innovators accountable, we need to focus on the boring stuff: how to measure progress, how to set up milestones, and how to prioritize work. This requires a new kind of accounting designed for startups—and the people who hold them accountable.
Failing When Not Using a Business Strategy for a Startup
Why are startups failing so badly everywhere we look? The first problem is the allure of a good plan, a solid strategy, and thorough market research and business strategy for a startup investigation. In earlier eras, these things were indicators of likely success. The overwhelming temptation is to apply them to startups too, but this doesn’t work, because startups operate with too much uncertainty. Startups do not yet know who their customer is or what their product should be. As the world becomes more uncertain, it gets harder and harder to predict the future. The old management methods are not up to the task.
Planning and forecasting are only accurate when based on a long, stable operating history and a relatively static environment. Startups stable operating history and a relatively static environment. Startups have neither. The second problem is that after seeing traditional management fail to solve this problem, some entrepreneurs and investors have thrown up their hands and adopted the “Just Do It” school of startups. This school believes that if management is the problem, chaos is the answer. Unfortunately, as I can attest firsthand, this doesn’t work either.
It may seem counter-intuitive to think that something as disruptive, innovative, and chaotic as a startup can be managed or, to be accurate, must be managed. Most people think of process and
management as boring and dull, whereas startups are dynamic and exciting. But what is actually exciting is to see startups succeed and change the world. The passion, energy, and vision that people bring to these new ventures are resources too precious to waste. We can—and must—do better. This book is about how.
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