How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

If you've not yet heard of Eric Ries, it may be because it wasn't that long ago he was just another Silicon Valley software engineer with a list of failed to modestly-successfully start-ups on his resume. Today Eric is at the forefront of a global movement that is often boiled down to the mantra “Build, Measure, Learn.”

Eric's book The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneur's Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (Crown) outlines an original approach to starting a new business based on his experience as a social media start-up and consultant. The term `lean' in Lean Startup is defined as anything that prevents learning how to create value for the customer.

Definition of a Start-up: A human institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty.

Eric’s primary focus is to eliminate any waste that does not add value to the end customer. In short, the lean startup model focuses on getting a minimum viable product to the market, then receiving customer feedback along the way (think in terms of experiments) to improve the product and pivot (take a new approach) as necessary.

This, of course, is in contrast to the old way of doing business where a product is launched fully functional backed by extensive market research. After all, your research may identify a problem, but the real questions are do consumers recognize they have the problem, are they willing to take the steps to do something about it, and more importantly, if you create a solution would they actually buy it (from you).

"The attributes for entrepreneurs cut both ways. You need the ability to ignore inconvenient facts and see the world as it should be and not as it is. This inspires people to take huge leaps of faith. But this blindness to facts can be a liability, too. The characteristics that help entrepreneurs succeed can also lead to their failure." ~Eric Ries

Ries uses case studies to make his points, including successes and failures, and provides tangible methods to improve your business and your creativity while protecting the bottom line. To his credit, he is honest about the responsibility he had to accept for some failures of system development, and to my mind what better way to learn than by example and hopefully in the process avoid making similar mistakes!

It would be easy to assume that a book written by an Internet entrepreneur might not have much to offer other types of businesses, but that happily isn't the case. In fact, the ‘lean’ method is for anyone who wants to create something new, whether as a solo entrepreneur, working with a team, or within their company.

Pros/Cons: I relate well to Ries' storytelling style because it helps me to follow the entire process for each project described, as well as to cause my imagination to soar in all different directions imagining various applications. On the other hand, someone preferring a more straightforward "how to" approach rife with bullet points, might find it challenging to get as much out of the book.

From my experience, the hardback format of the book may be preferable to digital simply because there are quite a few references throughout the book to different sections and chapters. No matter how many bookmarks and highlights you add along the way, it's time consuming in the digital format to go back and locate the sections referenced; where as with a book you could just quickly flip to the page.

Also,the book contains so much valuable information, I plan to read it again, and add lots of highlights and notes ... this isn't a book meant to be left gathering dust on a shelf!

Bottom line: I’m happy to recommend The Lean Startup ... there were plenty of "AHHA!" moments, and the information on testing products before launch, when to launch, and how to launch alone is easily worth more than the cost of the book by itself.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Marquita (Marty) Herald and I am the author and editor of the lifestyle blog, IGG - Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas. My mission is to provide my readers with creative tools and resources to inspire you to take charge of your life story ... challenge assumptions, practice empathy and seek to understand. I'd like to invite you to stop by and see what's new!