The Lean Startup Summary: 8 Key Tips

By Christina Cornelius Monday, April 14, 2014

The Lean Startup insightsThe Lean Startup" by Eric Reis. If you seek a process that will guide you as you build a sustainable business, read this book. Seriously.

Eric Reis co-founded IMVU, an online social entertainment Web site with over three million active users, and he is well known for his popular blog, In the book, Reis questions two common approaches to building a start-up; the business plan method and the let’s just do it approach.

He proposes a theory of entrepreneurship called the Lean Startup that applies Toyota’s lean manufacturing principles to entrepreneurship. Of the Lean Startup approach, he writes, "It is more concrete, more accurate, and faster than market forecasting or classical business planning. It is the principle antidote to the lethal problem of achieving failure: Successfully executing a plan that leads nowhere."

Here is a summary of relevant insights from the book:

  • Startups exist to learn how to build a sustainable business.
  • If startups exist to learn, you have to measure learning—not dollars, awards or mentions. Reis calls this validated learning.
  • You can manage the process of building your startup by using a scientific method and by literally running experiments.
  • Sometimes you have to resist your desire to put out a high-quality mainstream product and put out "a minimum viable product."
  • A minimum viable product teaches you what real customers want and saves you from executing a plan that leads nowhere.
  • Building a startup is an exercise in building an institution, so it requires that you embrace a philosophy of management, but not the "old school" kind.
  • If you produce small batches of any product or service, you can improve the speed at which you learn what works and what doesn’t.
  • The most difficult question an entrepreneur faces is to pivot the original strategy or persevere.

If you are interested in the following companies: Aardvark, Dropbox, Food on the Table, Grockit, IMVU, Intuit, Votizen, or Wealthfront, it is worth picking up a copy of the book and reading Reis’s narrative on each.

A serious manual by a seasoned entrepreneur, "The Lean Startup" takes on a worthy cause—"to improve the success rate of new innovative products worldwide." Whether or not the lean approach is for you, "The Lean Startup" is guaranteed to challenge and inspire you with new ways of thinking about entrepreneurship.

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