Lean Startup is everywhere. The concept has become the norm in the software startup world, and we, as business owners can only benefit from it. From the start, let’s all get to the same base.
“A startup is an organization used to search for a scalable business model”
There are a number of books written on most of the steps of Lean Startup, which I highly recommend to read if you want to get more details and more specific information.
Lean Startup is a cycle with different stages that your idea needs to pass through. In this article, we will present a summary of the process, actionable ideas to apply to your next or current project.
(Great) Ideas are on the top of the cycle. What is your idea and what problem does it solve? Make it clear and be sure you can explain it in less than 10 words.
The shorter you can explain your idea, the better.
At this step, it is a good thing to get some feedback about your idea, from qualified people. You may get a different helpful perspective.
Once you have your idea, imagine your ideal customer. Customer discovery implies research and the creation of a series of profiles for hypothetical top 3 customers.
For example, if your idea is to improve search engine position for blogs, you can make a top 3 list with these customers:
You may ask yourself why these types? Well, it is only a hypothesis that these people may benefit at maximum from your solution. They might have the problem of spending so much time and money creating quality content, with low search engine traffic and low results in their business.
You researched these types of customers, and you should do your best to interview them. Research and invite them for a coffee. Discuss the way they currently approach search engine optimization and if they have any issues with this. Address them open questions. You have no solution by now, the purpose is to understand their issues and their current behavior on the matter.
There is a trick at this point. At the end of the interview, if you find out that these people are really frustrated that they did not receive enough traffic from search engines, you may say a bold statement like this, to test their interest: “If I provide you a software that allows you to grow your search engine traffic by 20%, would you pay me now $50?” (or whatever you think of, just test their interest)
After 10 interviews, you kind of realize where it goes. There are few scenarios:
In Lean Startup, the initial product is so called MVP – minimum viable product. This product has to be the simplest product you can build that can be put in the face of your customers. If you can have the core functionality up and running in a matter of days, or at most weeks, the better.
You may be able to, of course, be creative and easier define what your MVP is. We have great examples like Dropbox, where their MVP was a 3-minute long video on a landing page with a subscribe button. That was it. That was enough validation for them to implement a file sharing tool from scratch.
In our case, on improving the search engine traffic, a WordPress plugin with features like setting custom titles and showing keyword density might be enough. This can be an easy and fast way to provide something to your customers.
You are now at a critical step in the cycle. Your duty is now to measure and understand the data you obtained. You had a product in the face of your customers. You have the data and the results.
Do they use your product? If they do, how often?
Did they complain about missing features? Did they complain that is a waste of time, hard to use or is not worth any money?
Put together everything you gathered about the product. Data and feedback, all together.
Is it the result you expected? Answer this questions and you are prepared for the next step.
You have the data and customers’ feedback, now it is time to learn from it. What were your assumptions in the initial phase? Did they validate? If not, why not? Do they offered to pay for the product, did they stop using it? Why?
At this step, you need to learn from this experience and get back to the root of the cycle. The idea. The problem. The customers.
You have now enough data to take a decision. Continue iterating on the initial idea, pivot to a secondary idea you have learned during the cycle, or completely abandon it. It is time for a decision. You might realize that they are not ready to pay for improving the search engine rankings, or they simply don’t understand the value of your product. Whichever it is, you need to get clear about the next step.
What experience can you share with us? Let us know in a comment bellow.