Looking for a streamlined start-up process?
The traditional way to start a business is to develop a solution to a problem, perform research and write analysis of the results and how your company will fill a gap or out compete others in your market. Then you complete a business plan, raise capital, and launch your business.
What if this model doesn’t work for you? Your idea isn’t fully developed, or your business idea is extremely simple. The Lean Start-up methodology might be right for you.
In the Lean Start-up method, the business plan is short, the product isn’t set in stone, and customer research is key. Rapid iteration of the product occurs, and contact with customers to gain feedback and ideas is necessary to facilitate that. This method is particularly well suited to tech companies, where the product can be changed and developed at a low cost.
Below, we have some resources that may be useful to explore. Even if you decide the Lean Start-up method is not right for your business, you may find that some of the innovation tools inspire your creativity.
Learn about Lean Start-up method through these courses and resources:
- Lean startups (MaRS Library)
- Startup Tools by Steve Blank
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (Talks at Google: YouTube)
- The Lean Method: 2 Minutes to See Why by Steve Blank (Steve Blank: YouTube)
- How to Build a Startup (The Lean Launchpad) by Steve Blank (udacity)
- Experimentation and the lean startup process by Anil Gupta and Haiyan Wang (Lynda.com) Note: Check if you have free access to Lynda.com through your local public or higher education library.
Books to Get You Started
Business Model Canvas
The business model canvas is essentially a one-page business planning method that ensures that the start-up founders have considered factors that will affect their business success.
To learn about the Business Model Canvas and how to apply it to your business, watch this series of six short videos from Strategyzer:
And this one from Alexander Osterwalder, the creator of the method:
To being creating your own Business Model Canvas, check out these tools:
Customer development is one of the key elements of the Lean Launch. By working directly with potential customers to find out what they like in your product, what they don’t need, and what other problems they have that you may be able to solve, you can iterate your product multiple times. This is done by interviewing your potential customers and bringing your findings back to your team. Steve Blank is well known for his customer development methods.
This definition page about customer development from Agile Alliance may be helpful in clarifying the concept and purpose:
In the link below, there is a series of videos featuring Steve talking about how customer development should be done:
These blog posts provide tips and trick for customer development, as well as more information about the process:
- How I Make Customer Development Interviews Less Weird and More Natural by Kevin Dewalt
- Accelerate Your Customer Development: How to Quickly Get Dozens of Interviews by Kevin Dewalt
- The Customer Development Model (CDM), product development and technology startups (MaRS Library)
- What is customer development? by Eric Ries (Startup Lessons Learned)
White Space Mapping
White space mapping is the process of businesses examining their environment with the purpose of finding new market opportunities. It is a useful exercise for companies looking to maneuver and grow in a crowded market.
Here are some articles about the concept and benefits of white space mapping:
- Where is Your White Space by Mark Johnson (Harvard Business Review)
- White Space Mapping — Seeing the Future Beyond the Core by Idris Mootee (Innovation Management)
- Finding the 'white space' in your market by John Bee (CustomerThink)
The Petal Diagram
The petal diagram can be sketched up in a few minutes, and offers a unique look at how your company creates a new market. It is best suited for companies that are not looking to enter saturated markets.
These two articles provide information about its use and examples:
- A New Way to Look at Competitors by Steve Blank
- Escape the Box: Three Great Ways to Use the Petal Diagram for Strategy (Cunningham Collective)
For more innovative tools to analyse your business or business idea, check out our Evaluating Your Business Idea page.
- ‘Lean’ vs. Traditional Business. (2014). Sage One. Retrieved from https://uk.sageone.com/2013/12/16/lean-vs-traditional-business/
- Sweeney, D. (n.d.). Traditional business plan vs. lean startup plan: Which is best when starting your new business?. allBusiness. Retrieved from https://www.allbusiness.com/traditional-business-plan-lean-startup-plan-115661-1.html
- Blank, S. (2013). Why the lean start-up changes everything. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/05/why-the-lean-start-up-changes-everything
- Ries, E. (2008). The lean startup. Startup Lessons Learned. Retrieved from http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/2008/09/lean-startup.html