Starting a business from scratch is one of the most exciting and demanding challenges we can face in our lives. As Eric Ries -the American entrepreneur and writer that started the Lean Startup movement- states in his manifesto, startups create and commercialize their services and products “in conditions of extreme uncertainty”.
Lean Startup is a method for business entrepreneurs based on the solid grounds of the scientific approach. But why should science be an inspiration for entrepreneurs? As history plainly shows us, the great scientific discoveries that have changed our world and fueled the growth of our economy were achieved by minds who were not afraid to fail. And what the Lean Startup method claims is that if you want to succeed, then you need to be willing to fail. The Lean motto “Fail fast, succeed faster”, adds to this principle the time factor, since startups are always dealing with the urges of a world that demands constant adaptation.
Karl Popper’s renowned falsifiability theory was developed in the 1930s and has since gained wide acceptance in the scientific community. Popper stated that a hypothesis can be considered scientifically valuable only if it can be proven wrong (falsified or refuted) through empirical testing. Essentially, the Lean Startup method has leveraged this idea for business purposes, using the scientific process to find a product that fits the market and develop a viable business model.
The aim of Lean Startup Methodology is, of course, to create and manage a startup. But the first thing this method proposes is precisely a radical shift in the way we define what a startup is. The keyword here is “research”. Before developing a scalable business model, lean entrepreneurs perform practical experiments to prove or refute their business hypothesis, thoroughly analyze the results of these experiments, then move on in accordance.
A rather simple example of this approach could be A/B testing. This methodology widely used in user experience research is based on the scientific principle that to effectively compare two different versions of a certain thing, you need to change only one variable at a time. By constantly measuring the results and developing new tests, companies can gradually discover what makes a product more effective and attractive to their audience.
Lean Startup Method is basically aimed at defining the right process to effectively reach a startup’s target audience. In doing this, it allows startups not only to avoid some of the most common obstacles to growth, but also offers them a set of benefits that are key for any startup seeking to thrive:
Improving planning and reducing uncertainty: poor planning is one of the main enemies of a startup. By allowing for the validation of some initial assumptions and testing the possibilities -and most importantly, the limits- of a business vision, the Lean Method aims at providing a startup with the necessary tools to develop a product in a methodical manner, based on processes and not in mere intuitions or unproven assumptions. This way, it helps companies avoid entering a chaotic path in which product development is not nourished by a tailored management process.
Increasing efficiency and productivity: based on the premise that every startup is a platform to conduct an experiment based on research, Lean Startup aims at answering first and foremost the question of whether or not a business model can be built around a certain set of products and services. This approach allows to distribute tasks and organize work on the grounds of detailed specifications on what needs to be built and how, thus reducing work overload and wasted time, and allowing every member of the team to focus on value-adding tasks.
Effectively adapting business plans by leveraging validated learning: uncertainty, constant change and demand for adaptation. All these are well-known attributes of the experience of entrepreneurship. Lean Startups offers a method to measure and demonstrate progress continuously: validated learning. The experimental nature of Lean Startup Method allows startups to discover relatively fast what it is that they need to build to satisfy their customers’ needs. Shortening development processes and promoting continuous testing, it encourages and facilitates a constant and more effective adaptation of business plans.
If we think about it, what lies at the core of Popper’s theory is precisely constant change, constant adaptation. Science theories are never static. On the contrary, they are being permanently subjected to questioning. So, it is not really a surprise that they have come to be a model for entrepreneurs, who are well aware of the demands of an ever-changing market. The beauty of the Lean Startup Method is how it has bridged the gap between entrepreneurship and science, preventing entrepreneurs from running into disappointing dead ends, and offering them the tools to build the solid grounds that any business model needs to be successful in a path full of great challenges.
At Eagerworks, we firmly believe that the key to reaching our goals in a world that is in constant movement is to avoid complacency, and to constantly challenge ourselves and our environment. This is why we promote the Lean Startup Method as an effective set of principles to craft success. If you’re ready to take your project to the next level by putting this method into practice, schedule a call and let’s get started!