Some say every entrepreneur is a snowflake. That there’s no one right way to achieve success, and that each start-up has it’s own unique challenges.
But what are the commonalities?
According to Eric Ries, author of “The Lean Start-Up,” one should try to follow the scientific method on the road to entrepreneurship. He expressed that failure is part of the package and that figuring out how to fail quickly and move on is a key component of eventually achieving success.
Remember the scientific method? That old formula from junior high? Purpose, Research, Hypothesis, Experiment, Analysis, and Conclusion.
Ries advocates applying a form of this method to the art of entrepreneurship. Using this process, emphasizes rapid prototyping and testing your assumptions about the market. If you don’t have something that can scale or that users will actually adopt, you want to scrap it as soon as possible.
An engineer by training, Ries said, “Almost every single product I have built or worked on in my whole career, has been a colossal failure…That’s the truth.”
He thought better technology would yield better results, but needed to go beyond the tech to figure out what customers really wanted and what quality actually meant.
He recommends stepping outside of yourself and your idea to double check to make sure you are on the right path. He says that many start-ups operate in a vacuum, where it is underscored for them over and over again that their idea is great! But Ries wants new CEOs to take a harder look at what they’ve got and assess honestly.
Sometimes the minimum viable product is just the experiment. Whatever you have to do to learn faster is the point, he says.
Some of his Lean Start-Up Principles are:
- Entrepreneurs Are Everywhere. (i.e. you don’t have to be in a garage or in Silicon Valley to make it happen).
- Entrepreneurship Is Management. “A start-up is an institution, not just a product, so it requires management, a new kind of management…”
- Validated Learning. “Start-ups exist not to make stuff, make money, or serve customers. They exist to learn how to build a sustainable business.”
- Innovation Accounting. “To improve entrepreneurial outcomes, and to hold entrepreneurs accountable, we need to focus on the boring stuff: how to measure progress, how to set up milestones, how to prioritize work.”
- Build-Measure-Learn. “The fundamental activity of a start-up is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.”
By this step-by-step process, you might gain more insights early on, and move forward incrementally. Others might argue that many start-ups operate in a state of serendipity — constantly cross-pollinating with other smart ideas. And it’s great connections that catapult them forward versus science and measurement.