How Not to Fail – Lean

Man I’ve been involved in a lot of businesses as you can see in my experience section on my website.  But one of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how successful or unsuccessful these ventures were.  Sure I’ve made some money in some of these and have had a lot of fun doing it but I haven’t hit a homerun yet.  A homerun is different everybody but to me a homerun is something that once you do it you never ‘have’ to work again.  It’s a career defining move that you can look back on and feel very accomplished and proud of.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this because of my exposure to the lean startup scene.  Where everything I’ve done in the past has been based on the solution to a “hypothetical” problem and on the execution, the lean startup process it is based on searching, discovery, and learning.  I used to start with the wrong part of the process, the execution.  I should’ve been focusing on the problem and the customers and how that all fits together.

Execution has never been the problem and typically isn’t for serious entrepreneurs.  For me, designing efficient systems and optimizations are something I’m very interested in.  Diving into this new methodology turns everything on its head and fortunately there are some great resources which helped to guide people like myself have been doing it backwards.

Reading Steve Blanks and Bob Dwarf’s book “The Startup Owner’s Manual” has given me a lot of insights into everything I’ve been doing wrong.  That isn’t to say I’ve done everything wrong, however I’ve just been starting from the wrong point in the process.  Instead of starting at the beginning I started somewhere around third base.  And no matter what analogy you wish to use typically you do not start at third base.

So if you’re like me and you love entrepreneurialism but you haven’t seen the kind of success you wanted and you haven’t hit that homerun yet consider spending a lot of time within the lean startup scene.  Education is always the first that even before customer discovery and figuring out what your dreams and visions are.

How long should you stay within the lean startup scene and educate yourself?  That really depends on you.  Once you’re able to absorb all of the knowledge and things start to repeat that it’s time to move on.  Take off the training wheels and start running.  Our own education and learning are done in the very same way as to the learning which Steve Blank and Eric Ries talk about.  We need to fail to learn.

Best of luck to all of you and remember to start at the beginning, not at the fun part.

Author: Adam Perkins

Startup Entrepreneur from Madison Wisconsin.