Unless you are part of the tech startup world, you have probably never heard of lean startup, a methodology developed and popularized by Eric Ries. In the startup world, he’s a rock star, because his scientifically proven method has helped countless companies get off the ground – and succeed.
Just because you’re not a tech startup doesn’t mean you can’t use lean startup, because its five principles are universal and apply to any small business that is just getting off the ground.
As explained on The Lean Startup website, here’s the problem: A lot of startups have an idea for a product that they think people want. They spend months or years trying to perfect it without once showing it to the customer, and when they launch, they find out that no one cares/wants/needs what they created – and the startup fails.
You definitely don’t want to be in that boat, so here’s how you can launch and grow your small business using the lean startup methodology:
Ask, “Is this idea sustainable?”
Share your idea with others and get feedback. Instead of asking, “Can this product or business be built?” ask “Should it be built?” and “Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?”
Build an MVP
An MVP is a minimum viable product – it’s what you need to launch at the very bare minimum. Think about a restaurant doing a soft opening for friends and family, or a fashion designer creating samples for friends to wear. It is a way of getting your business out there so you can start getting feedback and creating a better business.
Listen to feedback
That brings us to our next point: Actively ask for and listen to feedback from your beta (test) customers. They will tell you what features, services, and products they really want or need, and how to make those things better. Make those changes, and ask for more feedback to make sure you got it right.
This is important, because as you get and act on feedback, your products, services, and even your overall business may change – and that is OK! You want to build something that has customers and is sustainable over the long-term. You want this to succeed! Stay flexible, and stay focused on the big picture.
Keep that feedback loop in place
All businesses change as they grow, and if you want to continue to change for the better, keep your feedback loop in place. Listen to your customers in a year, 5 years, and 10 years down the road so you can continue to adapt to their needs – and continue to grow.
If you’re a small business owner, how did you grow and succeed? If you’re thinking about launching a business, what else do you want to know about lean startup?
Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.