Whenever we construct products, we utilize a methodology. For applications, we’ve many — you may enjoy a great long list on Wikipedia. But also often when it’s time to consider customers, advertising, placement, or PR, we delegate it into marketroids or suits. A lot of us aren’t accustomed to thinking about markets or clients in a disciplined way. We all know some products succeed and others fail, but many reasons are complicated and the unpredictable. We’re easily convinced by the argument this we need to do is construct it and they’ll come. And once they do not come, well, we just try, try, again.
What’s wrong with this film? Steve Blank has spent many years now to attempting to answer that question, with a concept he calls Client Development. This theory became so powerful that I’ve called it one of the 3 pillars of this lean startup — every bit as significant as the changes in the advent of agile development. It’s possible to learn about customer growth, and quite a little more, in Steve’s novel The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Here is the catch. That’s a self published book, initially designed as a companion to Steve’s course at Berkeley’s Haas school of business.
And Steve is the first to acknowledge it is a turgid read, without a lot of narrative stream. On the other hand, that means it is a whole lot. On the minus side, which has made it a wee bit difficult to understand. Some notable bloggers have made attempts to overcome these obstacles. VentureHacks did a great summary, which include slides and video. Marc Andreeson also took a stab, calling it a really sensible how-to manual for startups. A roadmap for how to get to Product\/Market Fit. The theory of Product\/Market Fit is one key component of customer development, and I highly recommend Marc’s essay on that topic.
Still, I feel the will need to add my two cents. There is So much crammed into The Four Steps into this Epiphany this I want into distill out what I see as this essential points: Get out from the building. Very few startups fail for lack of technology. They nearly always fail for lack of customers. However surprisingly few companies make the basic step of trying to learn about their customers until it’s too late. True, there are the rare products which have literally no market risk, they’re about technology risk. For the rest of us, we will need to get some facts to inform and qualify our hypotheses about what type of product clients ultimately will buy. And that Is where we find Steve’s maxim this In a startup no facts exist within the building, only opinions.