Lean Startup

Are you solving a problem?

There are many reasons your product could fail. Among them, the #1 reason why product fail is “We simply build something nobody wants”. Why is that? May be you can ask yourself few of the questions below.

  1. Does your product actually solve a problem?
  2. Does the “problem” you are solving really gets in the ways of your customers?
  3. Does your solution tackle the problem fundamentally?
  4. Do your customers clearly understand your solution?
  5. Has someone already solved it that you haven’t recognized yet?

Therefore, you should first to do your homework to identify the problems or obstacles that get in the way of your customers’ goals. Then examine your solution and see if you really identify the “right” solution. To confirm what you are trying to build is heading to the right direction, you want to loop in your customers for their feedbacks ASAP. In order to do that, you need to shorten your product release cycle.

How to shorten the release cycle?

  1. Create a 1-page business model instead – You need a plan that should take you 20 minutes instead of 20 days to write. It is not saying that you should not treat your plan seriously. It is about what you are focusing on. Here are steps that you can follow to stay focused.
    • Proposing a business opportunity in the form of a “hypothesis” about a need in the market
    • Defining the essential building blocks for the proposed business (key partners and resources, customer segments, revenue streams, etc.)
    • Quickly testing the assumptions about the market/customer needs by getting out and talking to lots of people
    • Adjusting the product or service based on feedbacks, and then define the minimum viable product (MVP). MVP does not mean crappy code but reduced feature set that you absolutely need to include for a meaningful feedbacks.
    • Write those down in your 1 page plan.
  2. Put a deadline to timebox it – To avoid over-engineering or beautify your code prematurely, you should set yourself and your team a deadline to meet.
  3. Optimizing for time – It does not mean going fast on everything, but rather slowing down to focus on the right thing.
  4. Build your MVP in small iteration
  5. Practice continuous deployment – You should release in daily basis rather than bi-weekly if you can.
  6. Constraint the feature pipeline – An new feature must be pulled by more than one customer or validated with some clients before it shows up in the backlog.

Establish a way to measure the progress

  • Don’t ask random people what they think of your idea. Only customers matter. Don’t ask customers what they think of your idea. Measure what they do instead.
  • Tools like KISSmetrics and Mixpanel can be useful for that.

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