The Lean Startup is, in Eric Ries own words, his effort to change how startups are built. As you may have guessed from the title, Eric Ries believes in lean manufacturing, by applying this to the field of entrepreneurship and innovation he attempts to reduce startups’ risk of failure. Billed as a must read for entrepreneurs in companies of every size, this book truly does take a new approach to starting a new business. Eric Ries draws on his experiences as a programmer, social media startup consultant and his greatest business success; IMVU, an instant messaging service that allows people to communicate using avatars.
Startups are very risky business but Eric Ries’ book looks to minimize these risks by reducing waste, which he defines as “anything that keeps the team from learning about how to create value for the customer”. The techniques Ries uses to become a Lean Startup are related to general lean principles but more specific to the challenge of creating something new. He writes realistically about the challenges which will face a lot of businesses which really helps you to relate and connect to the book. Through this connection to the book it helps you take on Ries’ way of thinking and look at things from a “lean” point of view.
The book is split into three parts; vision, steer and accelerate. This nicely separates the book, giving it a clear sense of logic and direction. “Vision”, the first part of the book, sets the scene and amongst other things helps to find new ways of identifying levels of progress within startup’s. “Steer” introduces a key concept, minimum viable product, and offers a decision making process to help entrepreneurs decide whether to change tactics or continue on their current track. “Accelerate” looks to discover how to really push startups’ through the build-measure-learn loop in order to help them grow and overcome issues as quickly as possible.
There are a few weaknesses to the book, such as nearly all examples being related to social media or e-commerce, which some people may feel limit its validity in other business areas. However, the ideas discussed are still important for many entrepreneurs to be aware of and will allow them to begin thinking in a lean mindset. Overall this is a great book and I would agree with the many other people who have also read and reviewed the book in saying that it is essential reading for all aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Throughout the book Ries writes clinically and in an intelligent manner, making it an easy and enjoyable read.