The Startup Owner’s Manual
Steve Blank and Bob Dorf
No business plan survives first contact with the customer.
A startup is a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. Then it goes into execution mode once it does.
Startups demand execs who are comfortable with uncertainty, chaos, and change.
Customer Development process stresses learning, discovery, failure, and iteration in the search for a successful business model.
Customers don’t behave like your business plan. Facts only exist outside of the building.
The goal of the MVP is to build the smallest possible feature set.
Winners throw out the traditional product management and introduction processes they learned at existing companies. Instead, they combine agile engineering and Customer Development to iteratively build, test and search for a business model, turning unknowns into knowns.
Winners also recognize their startup “vision” as a series of untested hypotheses in need of “customer proof.” They relentlessly test for insights, and they course-correct in days or weeks, not months or years, to preserve cash and eliminate time wasted on building features and products that customers don’t want.”
“Losers blindly execute a rigid product management and introduction methodology. They assume that the founder’s vision drives the business strategy and product development plans and that all they need to do is to raise “funds for execution.
Founders, not employees, must search for a business model. The best way to search is for the founders themselves to get out of the building to gain a deep, personal, firsthand understanding of their potential customers’ needs before locking into a specific path and precise product specs. That’s the difference between winners and losers. It’s also the Customer Development process detailed in this book.”
The core of Customer Development is blissfully simple: Products developed by founders who get out in front of customers early and often, win. There are no facts inside the building, so get the heck outside.
The demands of customer discovery require people who are comfortable with change, chaos, and learning from failure and are at ease working in risky, unstable situations without a roadmap.
However, we now know that a startup is a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. The primary objective of a startup is to validate its business model hypotheses (and iterate and pivot until it does).
Customer discovery first captures the founders’ vision and turns it into a series of business model hypotheses. Then it develops a plan to test customer reactions to those hypotheses and turn them into facts
Customer validation tests whether the resulting business model is repeatable and scalable. If not, you return to customer discovery
Customer creation is the start of execution. It builds end-user demand and drives it into the sales channel to scale the business
Company-building transitions the organization from a startup to a company focused on executing a validated model
In a startup, the founders define the product vision and then use customer discovery to find customers and a market for that vision – present a low viable website service or product online and this is the MVP that offer to the customer. Ask if they have a pain point/problem or perception of one? And present the MVP for the first time.
Only a founder can embrace the feedback, react to it, and adeptly make the decisions necessary to change or pivot key business model components.
In a startup, you’re searching, not executing, and the only way to find the right path is to try lots of experiments and take a lot of wrong turns.
Iterations are minor adjustments to business model i.e. changing pricing from $99 to $79.
The 9 Deadly Sins of the New Product Introduction Model