In the books Running Lean from Ash Maurya and the Startup Owners Manual from Steve Blank are clear steps described how to use Lean Startup in practice. I both like the books because I see the books give clear answers to the challenges I experienced in the past with starting enterprises. The disadvantage from both approaches is that it takes very long and there a lot of steps to taken. It makes that it is not always clear where to focus on the first. Although I will still recommend everybody who is going to start a new company or launch a product to read the books first and use them a guideline, I discovered that the issue where get stacked is not described well in both books.
Customer-Problem fit is missing.
Customer-Problem fit is an idea described by Vladimir Blagojevic in ” 10 steps to growing a Scalable Business”
The way I understand or see it, is:
You need to find a group of customers who have the problem you would like to solve. Vladimir describes it as follows:
First, you need to think about who your likely customer really is. Be very specific. “First-time moms” or “Development managers in product companies with teams > 20 developers” is better than Internet users.
Picture your ideal customer. Try to figure out as much as you can about her. And I’m sure you know a difference between a customer and a user? Hint: look for the one with a wallet. Whether you have other kinds of users, it is the one paying the bill to whom you need to make a real difference.
List 3-5 potential (paying) customers of your service.
Pick one customer that is most likely to be your early adopter.
So they is to find the Early Adopter. Steve Blanks calls them Earlyvangelists:
Earlyvangelists = Early Adopter + Internal Evangelist
Earlyvangelists are a special breed of customers willing to take a risk on your startup’s product or service. They can actually envision its potential to solve a critical and immediate problem—and they have the budget to purchase it. Unfortunately, most customers don’t fit this profile.
- They have a problem.
- They understand they have a problem.
- They are actively searching for a solution and has a timetable for finding it.
- The problem is painful enough that they have cobbled together an interim solution.
- They have, or can quickly acquire, dollars to purchase the product to solve their problem.
These Earlyvangelists are first buying the vision and then the product. They need to fall in love with the idea of your product. It’s the vision that will keep them committed the many times you screw up. You’ll have bugs, your product will eat their data, you’ll get the features wrong, performance will be bad, you’ll argue about pricing, etc.
But Earlyvangelists will stick with you through good and bad because they share your vision. In reality Earlyvangelists are now part of your team. If you’re selling to a business, your Earlyvangelists will end up using your slides and metrics to help sell your product inside their own company!
This means Earlyvangelists, particularly in corporations, will be buying into your entire vision, not just your first product release. They will need to hear what your company plans to deliver over the next 18 to 36 months.
Especially in B2B startups, this is the key to success. If you have a group Earlyvangelists, you have the key to success. If you create a problem/solution fit for the right customer segments with one or more unfair advantages to be (very) competitive, you can just fill in your Value propositions. Off course you need to earn on it. Next step is to make it scalable.