Running Lean

Learn the fastest, cheapest and leanest way to bring a product to market.

Yes, you may believe that you’ve got a good idea. However, the difference between some wannabe and a real, smart entrepreneur is the capability to get the idea to work.

The thing is, though, you can be that smart entrepreneur, making your cherished idea into an actual product that’s got actual customers. Most importantly, it’s not necessary for you to have a million dollars in order to make that dream come true.

You do, though, need to be prepared to try your product out over and over, altering and making adjustments to until you’ve reached the market’s optimum place for action. From there, you’re headed in the right direction.

Running Lean, a part in the Lean Series, captures the best parts of “lean” methodology and then puts it to use during a certain mission; using your good idea in order to turn it into an awesome product. This text will take you through every step, beginning with the first idea all the way to when it becomes a marketplace phenomenon.

You’ll be taught:

  • How to alter your item should it not be getting early absorption
  • How come surveys and focus groups aren’t beneficial
  • What’s the correct way in order to receive the most from your prototype

Create a “lean canvas,” or one-page diagram, to get down your business idea simply and clearly.

Do you think of yourself as an ideas type of person? If yes, then you are well aware of what it’s like. At any time, a great idea can appear in your head; when you’re on a bike or eating dinner with a few of your friends.

From time to time, you come up with something spectacular; the seed of a successful business. However, prior to when your ideas get put to reality, you need to first, right them down.

Smart entrepreneurship begins with documentation as that lets you explain your beginning missions as well as perfect them. Since you’ll have to perfect them over and over again, it’s important that you have a quick and flexible way to document.

Therefore, which way is the best way?

Most importantly, you need to keep it short and simple. You may believe that creating a business plan requires months of work, however, there’s a much better way.

Making a lean canvas, which is a one-page diagram, does not require much time. It is easy to alter, which is the most important part.

The thing is, no one ever knows if their first idea will actually work. That first light-bulb moment is based off of assumptions and theories that are then altered when you continue to learn new things.

For instance, you may begin your tech company by placing a focus on a stunningly designed site. However, once you’ve done a bit of research, you may find that your customers prefer one that’s functional, which is why you choose the shift your focus to cater to their needs better.

Adjusting a long and complex business plan would be gruesome work. However, with a lean canvas, you can alter your vision with ease. Therefore, take advantage of the lean canvas approach and try out various business models for your idea.

With time, you’ll have a few one-page plans, therefore, you’ll be ready to begin bringing your business to reality. Go over those plans and select the most powerful models, the ones that you truly believe need to be brought into the market.

You may even select the one that you like the most, but wait a second. There are several other steps necessary to take prior to going all in. Keep reading in order to find out what they are.

To find a winning idea, test, test and test again. Follow the build-measure-learn loop!

Why in the world do people camp outside of Apple Stores just so that they can buy the next version of the iPhone. Those kinds of devoted customers make you think that they aren’t able to live without it.

What does that kind of attitude tell us?

First of all, humans are strange. Second, and more importantly, if you can make an item that your customers would really like, you’ve made a successful business.

Therefore, how do you find out what it is that your customers want?

You need to put your ideas through their momentum. Run structured tests as well as experience since those are the key pieces in the lean startup methodology.

When you do so, you’ll be able to ensure that not a single one of your resources are put to waste.

Don’t create and then ship the item right after just to see it not sell well and instead, begin by creating a prototype. Utilize them in order to see what it is that customers really need prior to putting every single egg into a basket.

However, how do you actually test out those prototypes? You can use this three-step process as a guide.

This build-measure-learn loop assists you in structuring your tests. Start off by creating a basic prototype, a kind of mock-up, or even just a site’s landing page. That’s all that you need in order to measure the item’s customer response. When you gather the relevant information, you are then able to figure out what had worked and what did not. Afterward, you alter the mock-up based on the data and then begin the process once more.

If this is still not clear, let’s take a look at how it would able to something simple such as a tagline.

You may believe that your tagline is so eye-catching that customers will definitely sign up for the mailing list. You can create a trial landing page that has that tagline and figure out how many people actually end up signing up. If the numbers aren’t big, you can alter your tagline to check and see whether the numbers increase.

This process is applicable regardless of the stage of development that your idea is in. When doing so, you will have made as well as perfected an item that you can guarantee customers will like to have.

This is called a product-market fit.

Potential customers will tell you what they want; talk to them before you build your product!

So, you’re now aware that figuring out just what your customers want is crucial.

However, does that mean that you need to spend hours upon hours trying to gather information and research on them? Definitely not! There’s a much better way; you just need to go and talk to those possible customers.

Regardless of what they say, surveys don’t help often when it comes to developing an item. Should you still be creating the item, it’s not easy to make a survey that goes over every relevant question since anyways, you don’t know yet what is and what isn’t relevant.

In addition, you will need to determine potential answers for that survey, but that’s quite difficult to come up with in the earlier stages. Getting many people to answer “other” won’t be useful to you whatsoever.

Focus groups also aren’t beneficial because people get caught up in the whole group thinking aspect of it that they don’t provide you with their own answers, the ones that you actually need.

Therefore, how do you figure out what their problems are that way you can create your item that’ll fix those issues? You need to do so via open conversation, for instance, through an interview.

Interviews are a really good way to find out things about you customers that you wouldn’t be able to find out any other way. For instance, someone wanted to create a software that made it simple to share both pictures and videos online.

Through several interviews, he had found out that busy parents found it very crucial to be able to share some kind of media with their families. This caused him to create his Unique Value Proposition, which was a short formula that stated what your item is and how come people need it.

His UVP was pretty simple, yet quite compelling: “Easy photo and video sharing for busy parents.”

In those interviews, he was also able to figure out a market, which were bust parents, so that he could find out who his item would benefit.

Similar to the build-measure-learn loop, interviews decrease the risk of wasted resources since they give you a chance to perfect your item prior to when you go into the market.

In addition, there’s one other way that you can guarantee that your item is great.

Before you build your final product, build a demo version to test both functionality and pricing levels.

Since you’ve learned about your customers, you’re now ready for the next stage; creating a demo.

What is a demo, though, and how come we need one?

A demo is something that stands in for your actual item. For instance, it could be a video, a sketch, or an early prototype. A demo is crucial since it assists customers with evaluating it. They get the opportunity to analyze both the idea and the pricing as well as figure out if it is something that really completes their needs.

For instance, you could display your demo to customers during interviews and ask them what it is that they like and don’t like as well as features that they believe aren’t there or the features that they really don’t need.

In order to put your pricing to the test, you can share the pricing model with the customers and write down what their first reaction to it is. Should they hesitate, for instance, you can talk about other potential pricing options alongside them.

Once you gather that last round of important feedback, you’re prepared to create the item for the first release!

However, the learning process doesn’t stop there! That’s why it’s important that you release an early version as quickly as you can.

If you have any more problems, you’ll have a bit of time to improve it and make sure that your business continues down the road to success. Don’t forget that the mission is to make an item that solves your customer’s main issues, which doesn’t have any of the unnecessary or “nice-to-have” features.

Additionally, you need to create a landing page online that’ll make a case for both your item and yourself. An effective landing page has to connect with the visitors fast, therefore it only needs to have the simplest elements.

For instance, the photo-sharing landing page could have the firm’s UVP, “Easy Photo and Video Sharing for Busy Parents,” along with a picture that backs up and details the UVP, like a parent pushing a stroller along with the CTA, “Take a Tour!”, plus contact details should they have any questions or feedback.

Analyze the customer experience by charting the path of early adopters and identifying weak points.

Have you ever been on a site where you had fallen in love with an item, but then you found that placing an order was too difficult?

You wouldn’t want this to happen to your customers, so how can you keep that from happening?

A good way to deal with any obstacles prior to launching it more broadly is my taking advantage of the expertise of your item’s first users.

For example, you could bring back those from your interviews and ask them to be the first users of your item. It would be even better if you provided them with a free trial period that way the offer to try it out would seem more attractive. Their feedback will let you enhance the customer experience before it’s actually put out their to the public.

In order to figure out the certain parts of customer service that need enhancements, you need to try and follow your customer lifecycle. However, what exactly is that?

A customer lifecycle is just the journey that your customers take, from going onto your landing page all the way to become a paying customer. By analyzing the lifecycle, you can pinpoint where you are losing your initial users during the road.

Maybe possible customers give up as your site’s design is off-putting. Maybe, for instance, they sign up for a free trial but then they choose not to use it. Are they leaving item in their shopping cart instead of checking out?

When you use web analytics to monitor how people are behaving on your website, you might be able to figure out what the problem is.

If you don’t understand the problem then you may want to create another line-up of interviews in order to troubleshoot. Interviews are always worth your time you want to figure out what the problems are with some detail.

Although that may seem like it’s a lot of work, only by using analytics will you know whether or not there is actually a problem. Real human contact is so useful should you want to figure out a solution.