Stage: Becoming a Lean Startup Guru | Progress: 0%

Stage: Becoming a Lean Startup Guru

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Outlining your Lean Startup

In Ash Maurya's Words

3 stages of a startup

For every startup, you will go through those 3 stages: Problem/Solution Fit, Product/Market Fit, and Scale/Growth.

Problem/Solution: This is the stage where you discover a valid solution for a problem worth solving for a sizable population. At this stage, it's important for you to interview users to see if you have made the right hypothesis on the problem and the solution. This is also a good time to learn about how you should build your product.

PS: Minimum Viable Business (MVB) means that you deliver your solution manually without a product (Even an earlier version of your MVP) - reducing development time, money, and future failures.

Product/Market Fit: The most important and difficult stage out of the 3 - if you are able to get pass this stage, then your product is pretty much set. You have left mission impossible land. 

This is the stage where you've built your solution into a product that people want and have validated your business model. Do not focus on getting users before you've achieved Product/Market Fit. Work with your early adopters and keep tweaking your solution until you are there. 

A good way to know whether or not you have reached this stage is if at least 40% of your users would be very disappointed if they could no longer use your product anymore.

Scale/Growth: After you've validated your product is a fit for the market, launch it to the mass market. You can now begin to focus on getting new users, go viral (Growth Hacking + Content Marketing + SEO), etc. Continue to optimize each of your features to create a frictionless experience for your users.

Growth Pyramid

How to Build and Optimize Your Lean Startup

The Lean Statup

Lean startup is a cycle of building, measuring, and learning 

Build: After you have validated your problem and solution, your next step is to build your MVP (Minimum Viable Product). An MVP is a version of your product that only has the key features that are needed to solve the #1 problem of your target customers - and nothing more.

For every key feature you create, you should define how each of them should perform (e.g. A key feature should make users read at least 5 pages upon their first sign-in). Your definition of how a key feature should perform would then be the benchmark of whether or not this feature delivers as expected. 

Measure: After the MVP is live and you have early adopters using the platform, you want to use tools to measure and get data on each of your key features. At this point you will find out whether or not a key feature passes or fails, and how users are using it so that you can tweak it.

Learn: With that data you've acquired from the last step, you will have acquired validated learning, which will help you understand objectively and exactly what your users are thinking, and why some parts of your website are not performing. Armed with this data, you will go back to building and tweaking the features or sections that are not performing so that you can repeat the cycle again.

Busting Lean Startup Myths

1. Lean doesn't mean you are frugal - It's called lean because the process helps you eliminate features that you don't need to build, which in result helps you build and validate faster. of course in the process of being crazily efficient, you save money in the process.

The opposite of it is spending millions of dollars renting an office, hiring 10 engineers to build a solution that people don't need, and writing a business plan filled with assumptions.

2. Lean isn't only for tech startups - Lean Startup Methodology is suitable for any size or any type of company. Lean Startup Methodology is about learning what customers want, and build that into a product with only the features that are needed to solve their problems. The opposite of this is building a product that you assume customers want, and features you assume customers need, which is what a lot of big/fat companies do. Therefore, lean startup is for everyone, every industry. The procedures are also not industry-specific, so that any company and follow the Lean Startup.

Get Lean with Ash Maurya 70 Minutes

We did a Q&A webinar with the legendary Ash Maurya, the guru who made the whole Lean Startup Methodology actionable. It's 71 minutes long, but I think the answers that he gave to the entrepreneurs should be very much worth your time.


The Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs 10 Minutes

A successful entrepreneur

1. Be open minded - Entrepreneurs and smart people can be close-minded at times, because of ego. However, one needs to understand that succeeding at a startup has little to do with being smart, but a lot to do with being able to understand what customers need, and having an insatiable curiosity. Listen to people, and learn.

2. Don't keep your startup a secret - Talk about your idea as much as you can. Don't be afraid to share your idea with other people. Nobody will steal your idea. You are risking a bigger risk by not getting early feedback from people. Startups die because of them not getting enough feedback to learn and grow. You should always worry about getting more people to know about what you are doing. Not less. The details are what makes it work or not work.

3. Stop developing features when stuck - When stuck, many startups feel that it's just because they lack features, so they mindlessly keep developing features. When stuck, ask customers and ask them what they think. It's better to fine-tune your primary feature and have more people use it then trying to come up with "side" features to drive usage.

4. Investments have nothing to do with your success - Like the stock investor. A company many people invest in doesn't mean it will succeed. The success of a startup has nothing to do with investments. In fact, 76% of the startups that were acquired in 2012 did not get any funding. In fact, when you get money from investors (not incubators), it's very easy to fall into a pressure loop.

5. Your early hires will make or break you - If you do hire, the early hires are so important. This cannot be stressed more. If anyone on the team feels something wrong in the gut, then do not hire the candidate. Google hires this way. If anyone on the team feels something is wrong, they don't go forward with the hire.

6. Decide everything on growth - If a feature or problem that requires building has nothing to do with growth, then put it on the backlog. When you put all the focus on growth, what you need to do suddenly becomes very clear.

7. A startup is a long journey - Do not believe in overnight successes. The untold stories of Angry Birds, Pinterest, and Twitter are that they all were operating close to 2 years before they became marginally relevant. It's very very seldom that a startup comes out with a feature that suddenly delivers overnight success. If you have already validated your problem and solution, then stick with it. Conserve money, because this is a marathon, not a sprint. Do not pivot too early thinking the solution is wrong. It could be that you are not getting to the right customers, you don't have friendly onboarding features, some tweaking is needed, or one of many reasons.

8. Be realistic - There are many success stories like one by Mint, or legends like Steve Jobs. We can all read their books, but the truth is that their experience has limited upsides to our abilities to perform in a startup. Success is based on luck, timing, the idea, the team, the connections you have, etc. So it takes time to get all of those together.

9. Communicate - Everything should be organized and communicated. If you have a co-founder, make sure everything is transparent with him/her. Make sure the responsibilities are established, and the amount of resoures from all parties are understood. Co-founders are like your spouses. Work the relationship like a marriage. You guys will argue, but always understand that everyone just want things to work out. So never hold grudge and let the other person know why you want to do or say something.

10. Be curious - What people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity. - Aaron Swartz. Entrepreneurs are stapled by their massive CQ (Curiosity Quotient) instead of IQ. When you are curious, you are powerful.

11. Never let it get to you - During your startup venture, many things will go wrong. You will just make too many mistakes, because every startup does this. You might send out a mass email with mistakes, hire the wrong people, have a huge bug in your product. The point here is that, you're the only one making such a big deal of it. Learn what you did wrong, and move on.

12. Failing is not shameful - Failing is a part of being an entrepreneur. Most successful startups you have heard of have failed many times. The one you hear about is probably their like 4th or 5th project. Failing is great, because you can learn a lot of things about what you did wrong so that next time you will do better.

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