“Experiment, Expedite, Iterate.” That’s Google’s mantra of new product development, and it closely aligns with one of the hottest trends in entrepreneurship today: the lean startup.
As an entrepreneurship educator, you’re likely familiar with the lean startup movement, promoted by author Eric Reis. In a nutshell, the lean startup approach emphasizes speed: launch a product or service fast; see how customers use it; revise. It’s a hot topic—and often, not always a useful approach to entrepreneurship.
What do your students need to know about lean startup? First, they need to know the key tenets and terms:
- Minimal Viable Product (MVP). Build a product (or service) only to the quality and specifics that enable you to go to market.
- Test and measure. Continually learn from customers. Analyze EXACTLY how they deal with your product or service.
- Pivot. Be able to swivel away from your original vision to adapt to new realities.
As their entrepreneurship educator, you also need to help them understand:
When to adopt the lean startup and when to be cautious
- Good fit to product and customers: The lean startup approach has been particularly popular in the technology world, especially for mobile apps and cloud-based software. It’s especially well suited to an industry with lots of competition, quickly-changing technology, and users have relatively high tolerance for glitches.
- When customers won’t tolerate a “version 1.0” approach: Creating expensive products? Running a high-end restaurant? Customers expect quality.
- Safety concerns: There are the obvious such as medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, aeronautical equipment. But less obvious, too, such as child care centers.
- When they are targeting just a few, large, customers: You won’t get many chances to get things right
- Limited or no resources or infrastructure for testing and revision.
Ries does have a point: entrepreneurs—including your students—need to get moving. But they still need to plan and lean startup isn’t right for every business.