Running Lean Mastery

Battle-tested recipes for early-stage founders.

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Here is this week’s “1 principle, 2 strategies, and 3 actionable tactics” for running lean…

1 Universal Principle

“Say no stealth.”
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Understandably, many first-time founders are afraid of their ideas getting stolen. However, building in stealth is a terrible product strategy because most first iterations of a product (Plan A) completely miss the mark.

To build what customers want, you want customers involved.

2 Underlying Strategies at Play

I. Getting others to see what you see is the first battle.

New ideas (even good ones) sound a little crazy at first. The initial battle is getting others to see what you see. The way you do that isn’t by keeping your idea secret but by sharing it with others.

Don’t believe me? Keep your best idea for yourself, but try to get your second-best idea stolen. Create a Lean Canvas and send it to every entrepreneur and product manager. Most likely, it will be ignored.

II. Customers don’t care about how your solution works.

Customers don’t care about how your solution works. They often don’t need/want to know how the sausage is made — and you might even scare them away when you reveal too much.

Instead, customers care about their problems or getting better outcomes. They favor simplicity over complexity. This means you don’t need to give away your secret sauce to discuss your idea.

3 Actionable Tactics

I. Embrace obscurity

Don’t chase PR or a big announcement until you’re ready. While this might sound like stealth, it’s not.

Stealth = talking to no one.

Embrace obscurity = selectively talking to some people.

II. Share your unique value proposition, not your solution

Don’t lead with your solution but what your solution helps your customers achieve.

UVP = Your promise of something better.

This could be framed as solving a problem or achieving a better outcome. You’ll know it works if/when you earn attention.

Examples:

  1. No more late fees (Netflix)
  2. Burn rubber, not gasoline (Tesla Roadster)

III. Attract customers, not competitors

Your goal is to attract customers, not competitors.

Once you do,

  • deeply understand your customer’s problems to help position your product better,
  • Share/iterate on your demo to help you design a better solution,
  • Share/iterate on your pricing to help you design a better business model,
  • Share/iterate on your MVP to help build a repeatable and scalable business model.

Building continuous feedback loops with customers is how you iterate from your Plan A to a plan that works.

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