Welcome to the second article of our Entrepreneurial Wednesdays series. In this series, I share my thoughts on lean entrepreneurship as I take my first steps in my journey. I will be sharing my lessons learned with you.
In this second article of the series, I want to dive into how to make sure you are creating something people would want.
The Startup vs. The Company
20th century was the cradle of management. Don’t get me wrong. Management was also done in Ancient Egypt, no doubt. But the biggest outcome of managerial work could be witnessed in the previous century. And? What does it mean for the „startup industry”? The success of management generated huge material wealth. It made industries much safer and stable for a high number of companies. And this is something we can’t find when building a startup. The material stability of the industry is simply not there. The risk in building a startup is something that should not be forgotten. Most importantly, comparing a startup with a growing company (business) is a mistake and can lead you to misunderstand the whole process of building a startup.
The Importance of Validation
Another difference between companies and startups is the way of scaling the growth of the project. Normally, business is scaled on the number of products produced and sold. On the other hand, startups are scaled in a completely different way. Imagine, you don’t have a product to sell. You don’t even have customers. So how do you scale if you are moving forward? Without the product or customer, you still have your predictions. These predictions can be scaled, more concretely, validated. Validation works as a reassurance of your predictions on the growth of the project. So what do you do to validate? Get in touch with your potential customers. People you THINK and PREDICT would buy the product you are working on. Ask them, see if they really need it. Make sure you are building something the world actually needs. Get some feedback on the features of the product you want to add. The opportunities are great and wide.
And now it is getting really interesting. Why people don’t use this alternative when it is for free, it is effective and the amount of time wasted is very little? Eric Ries explains the problem: „ The reason is that knowledge or experience can’t be touched or seen. That is why a physical outcome of scaling brings more satisfaction.” Our mentality plays a huge role in here. We don’t see knowledge as useful as numbers on paper because we cannot see its physical form. But trust me, it is there and it will transform how you think, talk and work. For a startup in early stages, there is nothing more important than getting experience which is later invested into the project. Just like money, it is an investment, but with one difference. Even if you fail, you still get to learn new things.
During the process of validation, it is likely to happen that, based on your customer feedback, you will have to change the product. Sometimes more, sometimes less and sometimes completely. That is not something you should be afraid of. That is validation. That is changing your product to something people would love to buy! This process is mentioned in the book as „adjusting the engine”. Your product is the engine and the info you get from validating is the fuel. You have to adjust the engine, so that it would run perfectly on the fuel, to get the horsepower you need to launch the product.
Startups and Entrepreneurs
Lastly, what is the bonus of working on a startup? You become an entrepreneur! Now, I don’t know if you have ever heard of the term „intrapreneur”. It is someone working in a company, while being the head of a specific project inside the company. For instance, being the head of a team trying to build a car for a specific market inside a big corporation makes you an intrapreneur. This concrete example was mentioned in the book, more so it is an example of startup inside a company. What does it mean? It means that startup is not necessarily a project you work on with your friends while having no money, but being super driven :). Startup has several forms. From independent projects to projects in government. Startups can be found anywhere. And that is the beauty of it.
What are your thoughts on Lean Entrepreneurship? Let me know in the comments below.
And keep your eyes peeled for the second installment of the series next Wednesday!