Wednesday 1 May 2013

The First Rule of Lean Startups is...

The First Rule of Lean Startups is ... You do not start coding.

  1. There are some fantastic ideas that are technically feasible.
  2. There are some ideas for products and services that people are willing to use. 
  3. There are some products and services that people are willing to pay for to use.
(2) is a small subset of (1) - think of all those startups that never got users. (3) is a small subset of (2) - think of all the free internet apps that cannot charge anyone. Thus, if all you have is an idea, sheer probability means that your idea is awesome but no one will buy it or use it. Before you do anything, verify your idea is a 2 or a 3.

The Second Rule of Lean Startups is ... You do not start coding.

Seriously, put up a landing page to gauge interest (like Buffer did). Buy some Google Adwords and see if anyone is clicking on your pitch. Talk to someone. Get out of the building. Do a mechanical turk. There's no reason to start coding anything. 

The Third Rule of Lean Startups is ... Your MVP is not 'M' enough.

What's the smallest version of your product you can sell, learn from and improve upon? That's what is called a minimum viable product (MVP). Chances are that you're overthinking your MVP. There are features that you can eliminate and still be able to get users to buy or use your product. As Eric Ries said, if you are not embarrassed by your product, you've waited too long.

The Fourth Rule of Lean Startups is ... Build What You Can Sell.

With every feature, ask the question: will someone pay me for this? Will someone pay me more for this than if I didn't build it? Ask the question and get the answer with the least effort (see The First Rule).

The Fifth Rule of Lean Startups is ... Charge from Day 1.

Charge from day 1?? Audacious. Wouldn't it be easier to have users and then start charging them later? No. The best reason for charging from day 1 is that, by definition, you will start building something worth paying for.  Just ask Kickoff Labs.

The Sixth Rule of Lean Startups is ... Release Early, Release Often.

A corollary to the MVP rule; you release early and often to accelerate your learning. Release an early version of your feature or product and let your users help you refine it.

The Seventh Rule of Lean Startups is ... Pivot if you have to.

If you've applied the rules correctly, you will end up in a situation where your current startup/idea just doesn't work for your chosen target market. A silver lining is that you've either (a) found  that your idea is perfect for another target market or (b) found that your chosen target market has a problem worth your while to solve or (c) a feature of your original vision becomes the idea for a product all by itself. That's a pivot.

The Eighth and Final Rule  ...

 If this is the first time you're reading these rules, you have to apply one of them right now.

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1 comment:

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