Whenever you are on a blog or social site dedicated to business, you will end up coming across the term “lean startup”. People are always arguing the principles of the concept, or asking questions about how it can be implemented. The web is full of articles written about the most famous examples. Yet, with all of this interest and information, so many seem unsure about what really constitutes a lean startup, and how it is implemented to the greatest benefit.
So,, what are the bare bones of the philosophy? What can we learn from those companies who have successfully started out as lean and moved onto bigger and better things? To get these answers, we have to break things down.
What Is A Lean Startup?
This is one of the most argued points, as there could be several definitions. Originally, it was a term coined by Eric Ries, and specifically related to high tech companies and their use of scientific experiments in modern technology rather than financial focuses. But it has changed a great deal since then.
Now the term is more appropriate for describing a company started on a simple idea, with a small crew (or even a single developer) as it relates to online products. Entrepreneurs are forced to start out small and think outside the box to get their concept off the ground. So in the beginning the entire focus of the enterprise is launching a product that is effective enough for the consumer base to gain traction, rather than relying on heavy funding, marketing and larger businesses to push them into the spotlight.
What Businesses Are Lean Startups?
One of the most popular examples of a lean startup that gains notoriety has to be PayPal. They had a single mission and a small group to make it happen. By keeping their business model trim, they were able to break into the very difficult world of online banking. One that was very untrusted at the time, offering up a unique challenge that they managed to overcome.
YouTube is another great example. It was just a couple of guys who wanted a video hosting site that was open to users. They kept their business model trained on that idea, and posted the very first video for the site, a clip less than a minute long of one of the founders at the zoo. We have seen YouTube become the primary video site on the web with incredible gains for users in both a professional and personal capacity since.
Other examples are Google, Facebook, Yelp…all were once lean startups that became something much more.
Is It For Me?
Only you can answer that.I like it how Dobovo CEO puts it:
The great thing about a lean startup is that it is an achievable goal for anyone. You just need dedication to your idea, and a strong beginning.
What you have to keep in mind is that the term lean is not necessarily applying to the financial concept that so many have turned it into. You should not be seeking a lean startup because you don’t want to spend the money to get it off the ground; it doesn’t mean cheap. No matter what kind of business you start, it will be an investment. Which means you will be taking a certain amount of risk, whether you start prior to or following the support of investors.
But it does mean you will have more freedom to implement your ideas. You will also have the option of beginning your startup with a small investment on your end, and then seeking out funding once you have a tangible business with which to approach potential investors.
A lean startup philosophy is a strong one that has gained a great following since the term was coined in 2008. If you do decide to seek it out you will obviously be in good company. Some of the greatest online businesses started out this way, and have more to show for it than they may have ever imagined. It is living proof that an empire can still be built on a good idea.