Starting a Business the Lean Way

business planWhen it comes to starting a business, the path for many people involves carefully charting a course by following the traditional steps of creating a business plan. In an earlier blog article, “So you want to start a screen or graphics printing business”, the steps to beginning/completing a plan were outlined. They included doing market research; defining financial management, sales strategies, responsible organizational and management personnel; how to apply for a loan and more.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

In “Launching Lean” by Daniel Bortz (Money Magazine, page 40, March 2014), the author outlines what this “lean” means. Here it is in it’s entirely. It’s very different than the traditional approach to building a new business. Many will argue its demerits, others will find that this approach speaks to them.

LAUNCHING “LEAN”

Some entrepreneurs are trading in the traditional business plan for trial and error. This methodology, popularized by Eric Ries’s 2011 book, the Lean Startup, is not “rapidly going around the world, ” says Alex DeNoble, head of San Diego State University’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center.

What Lean Means. It’s a fast-track to launch. Instead of painstakingly researching the market first, you dive into product testing, using consumer feedback to develop a “minimum viable product.” So, if you’re making a game for tweens, have kids play with it, pivot based on their reactions, then test again.

When to Skip It. This strategy isn’t for businesses that need to come out of the gate with a fully formed product, says Jeffrey Bernel of the University of Notre Dame’s Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship. A restaurant, for example, might struggle to establish a customer base if it keeps changing its menu.

How to Do It Right. “The output is only as good as the input,” says Daniel Cohen, director of the eLab accelerator at Cornell University. So, clearly ID your target customer before convening focus groups. And, set an end date for testing so you don’t exhaust resources before you launch.

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