By Elizabeth Yin (Co-Founder, LaunchBit)
I’ve read a lot of business books over the years — for school, for *fun*, for work. Most of them are just ok — largely intuitive and too high level to be useful. I wouldn’t recommend most books I’ve read to anyone. But, I just finished reading a draft of Eric Ries’ new book, The Lean Startup. This is a must read for all internet entrepreneurs and a compelling read for anyone who’s ever wanted to cut waste out of new projects… including stuffing envelopes!
For those not familiar with Ries’ work, this book is focused on reducing “business waste,” the time, money, and resources that companies spend building things people don’t want. Ries discusses how we can reduce this waste through his business philosophy, the Lean Startup Method, which is largely an amalgam of ideas from Agile Software Development, the Toyota Way, and Steve Blank’s customer development philosophy. In short, the Lean Startup Method calls for doing iterations of small batches of work combined with careful measurement. By doing rapid iterations of work and measurement, he talks about how companies can then make quick decisions to change the path they’re going down, which is critical if it’s the wrong one. Long-term business planning and projections don’t work for new initiatives, because there are so many unknowns. This kind of continuous learning and iteration is precisely what new product/project teams need, regardless of whether they’re at a large company or tinkering in a garage.
Although the book addresses a very heavy and complex topic, it’s a surprisingly light read and appeals to broad audiences. The book doesn’t use technical terminology or complex business words, so you don’t have to be a developer or a finance whiz to be able to understand this book. In fact, this book review uses more terminology than the book itself… :)
The case studies included in The Lean Startup are fascinating. Even those who are well-versed with the Lean Startup Methodology already will find new examples — I certainly did. He talks about IMVU, the company he founded, in much greater depth and shares other stories that are largely unknown. His examples range from well known tech companies to small startups. What I like best is that he’s able to get data from a couple of real companies and dive into a thorough analysis. His best case studies are of internet companies, so this is particularly appealing to those who are in the field.
To read the full book review by Elizabeth Yin, click here.
About the guest blogger: Elizabeth Yin is an internet marketer and backend programmer. Previously, she ran marketing for startups and also worked as a marketing manager at Google. Prior to Google, Elizabeth wrote backend code for startups during the rise and fall of the dot com era. Elizabeth holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford and an MBA from MIT Sloan. Follow her on Twitter at @launchbit.