Our February book club pick focuses on innovative startups, but you don’t need to be a new company to learn from what the author has to say. The Lean Start Up by Eric Ries asks its readers to focus on what your client actually wants. I know, I know…groundbreaking, right?
To many of us, this seems intuitive, but a majority of companies are still missing the mark here. Look at the type of institutions that have closed in the last year: Sears, Payless, and Toys R Us are just a few. These companies were once household names and ruled the marketplace. What happened? How do firms that once set the standard end up shutting their doors completely?
This book lays out the simple problem that can happen. So many firms start out as rough and tumble organizations that focus on the client. They spend everyday thinking about what their clients want, how they buy it and how the company can improve their experience. These types of firms are usually quite small.
But, success brings growth. And with growth comes more people in the room. Each new member is hoping to show what they bring to the table and that means everyone is focused on more sales.
But, aren’t sales the most important part of growth?
Nope. Ries explains that this is where many companies, specifically start-ups fail. Companies aren’t made on sales alone. Anyone can have great sales for a couple of quarters or even years. But, if you don’t have customers coming back again and again for a product or solution that fixes what they need, you have a big problem on your hands.
This begs the question. How do we know what the client needs? Startup explains the concept of minimum viable product (MVP). MVP is about getting the product out there and testing the waters. In a sales organization MVP is commonly not a product, but a person. Afraid you aren’t ready to face clients? Need to read a couple more books before you make that big pitch? Nonsense.
Get out there. Improvement comes from failure. That’s not something many of us want to hear, but it’s true. Failure is what leads us to quickly understanding what our clients actually need. How many of us have spent hours prepping for a meeting with the belief that we are the lowest price solution and that is going to win it all for us only to find out the client doesn’t care about money? Yeah, me too. Success in business is about listening and not talking. It’s okay if you don’t know every answer. Get your product out there and start having conversations.
Most importantly, The Lean Startup explains MVP means to really win, you have to be willing to be wrong and learn from it. Learning from our clients allows us to understand what they care about and therefore change our product based upon it.
Ries goes into great detail in the book on how to improve your skills and products to better your company. I highly recommend picking this one up to learn more and start incorporating it into your own life today!
For more information on the book and movement visit: http://theleanstartup.com/
To find out more about the author follow her on Instagram at: @sarahmaedickinson