Lean Startup Methodologies
What are they?
In episode 1 of this series, we talked about how to choose a business idea. Let’s assume that you either have your idea, or you are still working on that, but are ready to move ahead. The next thing to do is to put your idea through a rigorous set of steps to see if your business “has legs”. In the past, people came up with a new idea and jumped right in. They poured all of their savings into their idea, or got others to invest. If they wanted to start a tee-shirt business, they started sourcing materials, buying equipment to make the shirts, hired people to make a website, printed business cards, bought domain names. Whoa there buddy. There has got to be a better way! What if you go through all that and nobody knows about your new company? What if you make shirts nobody wants? Isn’t there a sure fire way to validate things before putting it all together? Unfortunately, no! Surprise! There is no way to guarantee success, but there are ways to make assumptions, gather data, prove truths and identify risks and things that don’t work. Sound familiar? Well it should, it was drilled into your head all throughout science class from elementary school onward. What I am talking about is the Scientific Method. The process Scientists use start out with a guess about how things work (hypothesis) and then they test, test, test. Proving what works and what doesn’t. This is exactly what Lean Startup Methodologies are. They are based on the science, of, well, science.
Where do we start?
I’m glad you asked! Because if you’re still reading, I’m going to share something with you. This blog is not just a therapeutic outlet for me. It’s also going to be a case study. As I outline things in these articles, I’m also going to be doing this for real with my own side business idea. I’ll share every detail that I learn as I go and look for your feedback, advice and questions as I go. So we will quite literally be starting at the beginning. So, lets go!
What’s my idea?
First a bit of background. My unfair advantage is that I am a Senior Software Engineer. That’s fancy pants for a computer programmer. I also love to teach. I am a former MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) as well. I have been reading articles lately that there is a lack of good programmers, yet the openings are growing at a very fast rate. College students are not majoring in Computer Science as much as in the past either. This all means that there may be a shortage in the future for technical jobs across the board. I also realize that Millennials are not big fans of long term student debt. More kids are skipping College and opting for cheaper options like vocational schools, or even trying out the job market without higher education all together. The Millennials were brought up on computers and tend to be tech savvy right out of the gate. I would like to serve both issues. I want to start a business that teaches programming to Millennials that are not fulfilled with their current jobs. I want to show them that it’s not too hard of a thing to learn. I also want to do it on their schedule, at their pace, and at a price point that is fair and affordable. So, how do I do that? I have an idea, but I will have to prove it all out Lean Startup Style.
Very First Step
Gotta start somewhere right? Ok, so I have identified “something” but I need to interview some Millennials as they are my target audience. It’s important to know your audience because no business is great for everyone. If you think you have something that everyone will love, then you have some narrowing down to do over the next couple of phases. First thing I need to do is define my problem. I can’t solve a problem that I can’t define in simple terms. In order to define my problem I need to interview. I have some assumptions but I can’t go by those because they come from me. I am not my customer so anything I add to the equation could be misleading or wrong.
Im gonna wrap this article up here because we need to talk about the interviews. There is some pre-prep work to do before talking to some people and I want to give some time to let you absorb where we are. It’s going to take off quickly soon, but we need to take our time to prepare so we can keep up later. What are some of your ideas? Did this shine any light on how we are going to approach things? Please give me your thoughts…
The Savij Coder