Three Lean Startup Principles to Live By

For the last few weeks I’ve been organizing a lean startup bootcamp for the TechBA program called “Build or Die!” It’s been pretty much occupying all my time (that and StartupWeekend San Jose) and that’s the reason I haven’t been blogging.

It’s been a great opportunity to pull together many of my favorite thinkers and hear points where they differ, but it’s also been enlightening to hear where they agree. Here are three things that everyone said at one point or another including Patrick Vlaskovits, Brant Cooper, Tim McCoy, Stefan Klocek, Victor Reyes, Wee Yen, and Hiten Shah.

1) “I don’t know.”

That’s a direct quote from everyone. Never ever trust a speaker or a consultant who thinks they know everything.

It’s stupid.

Everyone can have an opinion, but ultimately the only expert (lean startup expert or otherwise) on your business and your customers is going to be you. If it’s not, you’re in the wrong business.

Don’t know everything about your customers? Not to worry, proceed to point 2.

2) The goal is to learn something about your customers.

If you’re not learning something about your customers every day, you have a serious problem. Writing code accomplishes nothing if you’re not putting that output in front of a customer.

Starting at Google Analytics does nothing if they are all vanity metrics. Fundraising does nothing if you’re going to blow it all on a fleet of Segways to shuttle your overpaid consultants around your (soon to be bankrupt) company.

3) The way to do that is to talk to your customers.

Steve Blank’s shorthand is “get out of the building.” The alternatives to getting out of the building?

If you can’t get out of the building, look at a customer in the eye, and talk about their problems you will never ever develop any real understanding of the issues they are facing.

You might get lucky. They might have the same itch you’re scratching at. But I wouldn’t bet on it. And besides…

if you don’t care enough about your customers to talk to them, why the hell are you doing this?

Go get a job working in the bowels of Microsoft. You can’t solve a customer’s problem if you don’t care about the customer.

Talk to them every day and you will never look back.

Good hunting!

So…what should I post next? Tweet to tell me what to write:

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How can I do lean startup in my friggin' huge company?


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