Book Review: The Lean Entrepreneur

Grow your business through experimentation

Is uncertainty overwhelming your business’s next big bet? Trying to stay ahead of the curve? Getting ready to launch a disruptive product in your new startup? You might want to build-measure-learn.

Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits have gone above and beyond the call of duty to put together the next must read book for entrepreneurs of all colors. Brant also happens to be a good friend, thought leader of lean startups in general and true linchpin in the San Diego entrepreneurial community.

Eric Ries popularized the new wave of entrepreneurship thinking with his book The Lean Startup. In The Lean Entrepreneur Brant and Patrick have developed the core ideas behind lean thinking and customer development into a holistic approach to your entire company’s value chain.

One of the fundamental obstacles new products/companies face is that the founders live in their own heads. Time, effort and resources are devoted to planning, internal discussion and focused execution. But focused execution of something that’s only been concocted in the safety of your own mind usually has a hard time finding market success (unless you’re damn lucky)!

The fact is that business building, like evolution, is essentially an extroverted process. Opposable thumbs weren’t a good idea a priori. They turned out to be a good idea once our thumbed ancestors beat out their thumbless competitors to survive and reproduce. Nobody knows what will be the next blockbuster before it’s actually released. The market determines the blockbuster, not the executive producer. Only viewers have the power to decide.

The Lean Entrepreneur applies relentless experimentation to every element of product development and business modeling. If managed correctly, these tools help provide founders with continuous, actionable feedback to inform their decision-making. The authors apply this rigorous methodology not only to product development but also to customer acquisition, sales, marketing, etc. The case studies along the way range from a variety of tech examples to my personal favorite: the founding of San Diego’s own Berkeley Pizza (best deep-dish in SoCal, bar none).

Check out the book and get your startup in gear. I will be recommending The Lean Entrepreneur to all founders trying to find success in a new venture. As always, let me know in the comments how you’re building, measuring and learning in your own business.