Covering all the Lean philosophy bases, Ash Maruya does a fantastic job in detailing the values and processes both tenured and up-and-coming entrepreneurs can learn from.
Relatable and easy to understand, Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works is a good read for anyone interested in starting a business or growing a brand. To better appreciate the book, one should acquaint themselves first with the Lean Startup philosophy before giving this paperback a shot.
Whether your interests revolve around the tech industry or not, the following takeaways we’ve picked up are sure to move you just as much.
Think about which stage your business currently enjoys
According to the writer, there are three stages of a startup: the problem/solution fit, the product/market fit, and scale.
The first stage involves questioning whether or not you’re solving a problem. The second stage covers what you have to offer as an enterprise and whether or not what you have to sell is worth buying. Lastly, the third stage discusses what steps you can take to expand your business further. Once you’ve determined all these bits and pieces, prioritizing which products and features you should bank on and validating your business model should become more manageable.
What is your business’s UVP?
Albeit a common one, this principle deserves the space in writing. It’s easy for good ideas to thrill any entrepreneur. Still, one should always ask if a product or service can be sold in unique and unexplored forms. What makes your business so different from every other contemporary your market is already presented with? Maruya does a swell job in reminding business people, if not teaching anew, what it means to establish a unique value proposition when building a business.
Evaluate the risk type
Another spectacular lesson Maruya articulately writes about is one that talks about the three risk types. He mentions that the product risk, the customer risk, and the market risk contribute to how your business pans out. The first type of risk tackles creating the right product. The second risk talks about forging a connection with your audience. The third discusses what it means to start a viable business.
All these facets are best studied in advance to foretell what enterprise challenges you could encounter. By determining what difficulties your business model and industry may throw at you, the more you’re able to prepare.
The science of experimenting
Like Eric Ries, the Lean Startup brainchild himself, Maruya believes that addressing one’s risks by experimenting answers many questions. He encourages entrepreneurs to develop a hypothesis and test these assumptions in real-time with a minimum viable product. He notes that business people should also make it a habit to journal their progress to make documentation much easier.
Don’t overdo your features.
Innovative features are impressive, but when they’re not warranted, they won’t further you any farther. Avoid bombarding your audience with features they didn’t request. Maruya says to be extra mindful of feedback and consider only what makes sense the most to your market. Otherwise, everything else you want for your business may just be noise.
Solutions alone won’t suffice.
Maruya makes it very clear that for a business to last, entrepreneurs must learn how to listen. No matter how stellar you think your solutions are, if you’re not passionate about new technology and immersed in what your customers have to say, you will quickly lose sight of your next business goal.
Empathy, he notes, will always be superior to solutions. So be people-centered and understand why people want what they want. There are far too many entrepreneurs who push for products and services they feel their market needs. Avoid losing to competition by listening and respecting what your market has to say.
Customers only buy from you when they trust that you can help them.
One thing several business people overlook is the principle of trust. It’s easy to ignore this virtue when you feel like you’ve ticked off all the boxes on your list. But Maruya makes a strong point when he says people only buy from those they trust. After all, why purchase from a brand that’s known to produce tacky quality?
Similarly, investors only extend their finances to people whose businesses they feel are easily scalable. An entrepreneur must make it clear that they can solve problems even before money becomes a topic. Whether investors or customers, one has to prove they can bridge specific gaps.
If not, what’s the point?
This book is a fascinating follow-up to Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup. Maruya provides fascinating insights that are both practical and valuable to entrepreneurs seeking to minimize risks and make the most out of launching new products.
Give this book a chance when you can and pick up a thing or two in how businesses should be run. It’s a six-year-old book at this point, but its pointers are still timeless.