Every startup entrepreneur would love to have a crystal ball. I know I would love to have one! Wouldn’t it be awesome to know what is coming so you can anticipate?
As a startup entrepreneur, you have a lot on your plate. Figuring out your business model is one of these things – and it’s crucial.
The thing is, it is virtually impossible to know up front what business model your startup will end up with. In practice, you’ll iterate and experiment your way to something that works.
And still, even when just scribbling on the back of a napkin…
When coming up with new directions for innovation, or when you’re taking the first steps on your startup journey, it’s all about understanding the problem you want to solve.
That requires making sense of a lot of incoming information.
First of all, you’ll have information coming in from interviews with people that have the problem, and you definitely want to zoom in on who they are and how they behave in order to help them with a solution they love.
Validating your assumptions with experiments is a cornerstone of the Lean Startup methodology. Identifying the riskiest assumption you want to validate, defining your hypothesis, and then running a validation experiment is a great way to de-risk your startup process and move forward. But selecting the best experiment to run can be a difficult task.
A little while ago, I created a handy Experiment Cheatsheet to help you select your next Lean Experiment.
It uses the startup timeline as a guide, and lists 25 experiments you can do to validate anything from ideas to growth. Depending on how far…
A few weeks back, I worked with a client setting up scripts for customer development interviews.
While they were working on questions for their interview script, one team member remarked that it would be great to have some kind of cheat sheet or list of questions to copy from. That would save a lot of time.
Going over my own previous experiments and looking at sources online, it turned out there are many questions that can be used time and again. So, I decided to compile these into a handy table :)
Coming up with questions for customer development interviews…
Let’s say you are validating a new product, and you’re homing in on a value proposition. So far so good.
However, it turns out you’ve come up with way too many ideas for features based on your customer’s input.
How to make sense of this? How to whittle this long list of features down to a manageable MVP?
And, it’s not just selecting a few of the most interesting features: the total mix of features will influence the desirability of the MVP for your customer. Clearly, validating feature combinations one by one will take way too much time.
As you probably read a hundred times, innovation starts by understanding your customer. What do they try to achieve? What is the ‘Job’ they try to get done? And how can you help them achieve it?
In Lean Startup terms, that job your customer is trying to get done is called ‘Job to be Done’, or, in short, JTBD. Finding the JTBD for your customer is a large part of the early stages of the startup journey.
Life’s too short to build something nobody needs
— Ash Maurya
Looking at the JTBD, it makes sense to ask two practical questions:
(This post is inspired and refers to this excellent post on LinkedIn, which dives much deeper into the subject matter)
Pirate Metrics can fill the gap between the ‘Job To Be Done’ for your customer and the value proposition canvas, while at the same time helping you to build a healthy sales funnel.
First, find what sucks.
As Peter Merel describes it in his post, innovation starts by finding ‘what sucks’. What is the part of a customer’s Job To Be Done that really doesn’t work for them? …
Customer validation, validation experiments for idea validation and problem-solution fit… Terms that describe an approach many startups and product teams have become convinced of. After all, the more you can base your decisions on data and test your assumptions in the real world, the more you can learn and avoid costly mistakes. This helps you focus on tackling the big risks for your startup early on.
However, designing and running experiments in practice can be quite difficult. Besides worrying about running the right experiment, the big question that always comes back is:
“Can I trust the result of my experiment?”
Any serious new project, whether it is a startup, a new product, or another type of venture, is a big commitment. It will take you time, money, and effort. There simply are no ‘easy business ideas’. So it makes sense to try and make your effort worthwhile. Sounds good, but where do you start?
Ash Maurya, entrepreneur and one of the founders of the Lean Startup movement, is clear about it: don’t sit down and write a comprehensive 24 page business plan. Instead, start right away with finding out what your customers really need.
Life is too short to build…
Almost ten years ago, the book Business Model Generation by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur changed how innovation was done. People that had no prior experience working with post-it notes and visual templates suddenly faced the nine building blocks of the Business Model Canvas.
It has become an amazing success story. So much so that today, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find people that have not heard of the Business Model Canvas or its most well-known descendants, the Lean Canvas and the Value Proposition Canvas. Almost every innovation session revolves around putting post its on a template in some way…
Designing the Future | Entrepreneur, venture builder, visual thinker, AI, multidisciplinary explorer. Designer / co-author of Design A Better Business