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Book Review: 'The Lean Startup' by Eric Ries

Updated: Mar 29

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Eric Ries is a technology entrepreneur, and has served as a consultant to a variety of startups. He’s also an entrepreneur in residence at the Harvard Business School. His book, The Lean Startup, enumerates a modern approach to building companies, and on how they ought to be launched in an increasingly fast and uncertain world, that accommodates the ability to switch directions at speed so as to achieve greater and faster effectiveness.

Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup is a book that reveals a new means of entrepreneurship. One that challenges the traditional ways of doing things, particularly in the world of startups. In this book, Ries introduces a newly defined ‘lean startup’ model built on an iterative approach that runs on experimentation and feedback. It’s a model that serves as an effective alternative to the narrative that old models are broken. A model that puts experimentation over perfection. Ries goes on to suggest that the most profitable startups have made at least one major pivot, an essential ingredient for business success in the modern world.

In a fast-moving, start-up world where iteration and pivoting are essential levers, recognising the idea of being nimble is a compelling argument. Ries’ The Lean Startup makes the case for entrepreneurs to think modern and pursue an exciting scientific approach, which is based on looking at ideas as hypotheses that manifest through testing and validation. Ries suggests that the key value of startups comes not from the products per se, but learning and knowing about what customers want.

Ries’ The Lean Startup explains the lean startup approach by referring to what he calls ‘minimum viable product’ or MVP. This is great phrasing, because it underlines the fueling premise of the start-up world which is based on experimentation. The approach to any experiment is based on testing. So, any product should first begin by its smallest possible version. Ries insists that the early iterations of a new product should be as minimal as possible. This saves time, permits better testing, feedback and scope for tinkering and improvements on features. The most important factor is time. By creating something small, it is easier to work on it, test it, improve it faster. Besides time, resources and costs can be saved across the whole development process, including defining the right features to include. Startups are often faced with an array of potential improvements, but making efficient changes that are strategic are essential. So going narrow allows ideas to specifically address the value on offer. These are important considerations because startups are better off trying to make products that customers actually want, rather than predict what they want.

Another important concept discussed in Ries’ The Lean Startup is called pivot or persevere. As the phrasing suggests, customers feedback can be applied in whichever way the startup entrepreneurs deem strategic. They can either decide to pivot by changing the product or the business model or decide to preservice by staying on track for strategic reasons.

Sometimes, not all customer feedback may be right or strategically sound. Ries’ The Lean Startup lays out a few principles, such as defining a vision, which is about setting the vision and thinking about how the business goes about building a sustainable business around that vision. The principal factor here is the key problem that the business is trying to solve. Thereafter, building the minimum viable product (MVP) with sufficiently enough features, for testing. Followed by getting feedback and iterating on the back of it. The last step follows in a cycle until a strategic point is reached before progressing the next stage.

Ries’ The Lean Startup is an important book for entrepreneurs because it spotlights the power of speed in innovation. To inspire entrepreneurs to think with a new mindset. One that allows them to be agile in dealing with strategic and tactical changes. All in real time. Speed and timing are essential factors in the world of startups because they define the gap between success and failure of a product. Ries’ The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs a variety of useful bits. Theoretical, practical and management bits that help entrepreneurs across the spectrum. From the phrases of design, execution and guidance. All extremely pertinent to the modern world of business and innovation.

The book isn’t just a great read for entrepreneurs, but for all types of people. It can inspire students, workers, managers, and founders. It can help in all sorts of ways, no matter how small or big the companies are. Even well-established companies can use the book as a means to incorporate a new style of business approach and tune up their innovation orientation.

Thinking about, or incorporating, a new type of business approach isn’t always going to be easy to manifest. And in cases, it may be quite a tall order when the contexts don’t permit. But startup thinking is essential firepower for today’s entrepreneurs who want to shake up the startup world and see business success with greater effectiveness and efficiency. The book inspires a new mentality along with practical insight that's essential to survive in the fast-moving world of startup and innovation in business. It brings a scientific and iterative approach to entrepreneurship that’s going to be forever useful.

For new and evolving entrepreneurs who want to get their hands dirty with success and speed, this is a great read. Ries’ The Lean Startup not only provides the principles, but a philosophy of how to think about business and innovation in the modern world. It will not only shift the mentality of an entrepreneur, but equip them with a new approach to growth and innovation. From Airbnb, a home-sharing startup, to Dropbox, a file-sharing startup, and Stripe, a payment-processing start, several startups, and their investors, have recommended and applied the approach proposed by Ries’ The Lean Startup, and is therefore an essential business read. Get your copy here:



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