Grigor Yeghiazaryan

Software Developer and Designer

Lean Startup Is Hard

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Lean startup methodology is a scientific approach to entrepreneurship. I’m scientist and I love it. It’s revolutionary. But it’s hard. For some entrepreneurs it’s even harder than making something with a fear of ending up with a useless thing thus wasting time and money.

I assume you are familiar with the basic ideas of lean startup. Otherwise try to grasp the main principles or better read the book.

So why I think it’s hard and what can be done about it? Let’s consider the following practices:

Finding right people for customer interviews is hard

Even we can imagine our target users, getting to real people is hard. The right people may not be around and may not be accessible. Also we need to be able to identify whether the interviewee is the right person and is part of target audience. Otherwise we get inappropriate feedback and incorrect results.

Conducting customer interviews is hard

Even we realize that interview is set up for discovery and proving or disproving the hypothesis, we are still unconsciously biased. We may be so attached to our beliefs and ideas that we can miss the real feedback from interview. It’s the human nature. We first believe then find justification.

Figuring out MVP is hard

What should we build for our first iteration? How “lean” should it be? If it’s too “minimal” users may not find it useful enough. If it has more features then we may be wasting time building a useless product. I’m currently thinking about how to define MVP and trying to come up with some useful advice. So will write about this in future.

Designing experiments for validated learning is hard

As in science experiments are the essence of lean development. Everything starts like a ship being launched in a sea of uncertainty. Every feature being developed, every direction being taken need to be tested. But it’s hard to figure out what to measure and how.

Pivoting is hard

How do you know if it’s time to give up doing one thing and try another? Are you sure that there is no more hope and it’s safe disposing of your current idea? And again we are emotionally attached to our initial idea because we are used to build for success not failure.

This post does not discourage the use of lean methodology. I just tried to highlight the problems that most people will face.

It’s hard but not non-doable. Lean startup is a new discipline and there is not much information, experience and success stories around it. For successful implementation of lean methodology new mindset is required. We need to be more detached from our beliefs and ideas, and we need to learn to build for experiments.

Also I think new specialized frameworks and services will emerge eventually that will guide us through the journey called lean startup.