The Harvard Business Review periodical published an article in May 2013 written by Steve Blank a professor at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, which changes the way business plans and entrepreneurial activities move forward. The National Science Foundation which is targeting at instructing academic researchers how to commercialize their ideas has adopted the lean launch approach of Steve Blank and is insisting that everyone of their grantees take a seven-week class on how to move an idea forward and start a business. I am currently teaching with the Berkeley node of the National Science Foundation this program that Steve Blank has designed. Literally hundreds of new startup teams have made a decision to go forward and form a company based on what they’ve learned.
This lean launch approach is likely to alter or greatly enhance the traditional business plan approach that is been taught for years in the business schools on how to start a new business. The business model Canvas as developed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur provides a template of nine cells that define the major elements that make up the plan for launching a business. Steve Blank’s program uses this canvas. The Osterwalder & Pigneur book “Business Model Generation” is on my book list.
The magic ingredient making this program successful is Steve Blank’s approach to customer discovery as defined and detailed in his book the Start Up Owner’s Manual, which is also provided in my book list. Customer discovery is simply the actionable intent to prove your business hypothesis by getting customers to acknowledge that they see value in your business idea and are willing to go forward using your approach. The canvas also provides the tools needed for your business which include identifying your customers, creating the value propositions that your product or service might provide, and putting together the partners, the key activities, the resources, the distribution channels, and the costs and revenue stream definitions that all make up the standard business plan. A simple one-page template holds the secrets to your business success.
Steve’s program is built under the marching banner of “Get out of the Building” and get on with talking to customers in a meaningful way. Key here is listening, listening, listening and learning what your customer’s problems are and what they really want. Along the way of this discovery the concept of the “pivot” arises when your original ideas begin to wane and customers begin to point you toward something that is much more valuable for them. Most startup companies go through the metamorphosis of some sort of pivot on their path toward success.
This program works for new startups, small businesses, scaling activities in existing companies, and any other initiative surrounding the creation of new business. The approach doesn’t take away the need for entrepreneurial persistence and drive, it simply creates a real path and roadmap on which activities should progress.
I highly encourage you to get the full article and learn about this new exciting lien launch approach.
The link to the Harvard Business Review is: