(Every Tuesday, Kyle St. Romain will talk about the business and legal side of the app world. While his opinions don’t always reflect those of Rocksauce Studios, you should hear him out…the guy knows his stuff!)
There are two schools of thought out there regarding entrepreneurs. The first school holds that entrepreneurs cannot be taught– entrepreneurs are born with a primordial instinct for how to build something from nothing. Thankfully, there is an alternative. The second school of thought regarding entrepreneurs has been gaining momentum in recent years and it holds just the opposite: entrepreneurship is a teachable skillset. After all, how many stories have you read of cavemen opening their own lemonade stands? I rest my case.
Regardless, entrepreneurship is a social sport. And as such, I encourage you to network with other like-minded entrepreneurs in hopes of learning something you can apply to your business. One thing I learned from having such conversations was my need to read a book, which I’ve briefly mentioned in a previous post. Now, it’s time to give it the credit it deserves.
The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries rightfully earns its spot as one of the single best books an entrepreneur can read. Yeah, it costs about fifteen bucks on Amazon, but it’s worth twice that. I’d even argue that this book should be required reading for undergraduate business majors and MBAs alike. I definitely wish one of my professors had introduced me to this, rather than some BS principles of “corporate strategery”[sic]. Look how good that’s been working for us….
Perhaps the best news about this book is that Eric Ries believes entrepreneurship is a learnable skill, and he does his best to teach you how to teach yourself to become a better entrepreneur.
At its core, The Lean Startup says that entrepreneurship is nothing more than a ride-or-die style of management. This is in line with the belief that startups are more about the people than the product. Look it up: most people believe that the right people will find the right product; VCs are more betting on the team since products change; and if you ask any successful startup how they came up with the idea, they’ll tell you it wasn’t what they initially set out to do.
Once you get past the initial shock that running a startup is more like high stakes management than whatever else you thought, The Lean Startup begins to introduce you to the idea of managing your business like a science experiment. Your startup will be a series of experiments, and your goal is to prove or disprove your hypothesis as quickly and cheaply as possible until you find one what works. You’ll also need to conduct your experiments orderly (scientifically), so you can isolate variables and your business can progress. It’s what a lot of web developers try to do by launching various home page designs to see which converts the best.
The Lean Startup also covers other important topics like minimum viable products (MVPs), customer development, innovation accounting, growth engines, and more. Mr. Ries cleverly introduces you new concepts throughout the book while progressively building on old ones. It’s all done at an engaging pace that will keep you itching for the next chapter. While you could easily read the book in less than a week, it may take a lifetime (or longer) for many of us to truly understand and apply the lessons contained within. And we can only hope to try.
Until next week, the most important thing to know about this book is that you need to read it. Your success depends on it.