Tuesday evening Startup Grind DC hosted a riveting fireside chat with Steve Blank at iStrategy Labs. For those readers unfamiliar with Blank’s work, he sits at the epicenter of the lean startup movement.
Blank’s framework gives entrepreneurs a fighting chance. Despite everything we know about business, far too many startups fail. Much of that failure stems from adhering to tools and business theory designed for mature companies. According to Blank, using a tool that’s out of sync with a company’s lifecycle is “like using a thermometer to measure distance.”
Blank’s framework, the Entrepreneur API, consists of three elements:
The Entrepreneur API facilitates a startup’s search for a scalable business model. You need to pivot? Great! Using this framework enables you to pivot with discipline rather than play flavor of the month. In fact, entrepreneurs should pivot as they gain more information about their hypotheses. You can expect to iterate through the fact finding and pivot cycles until discovering a scalable business model. (i.e. Don’t stop until you hit paydirt.)
One of the more interesting facts Blank revealed on Tuesday: Federal agencies are very interested in the model. He has met with leaders in a number of agencies this week, and based on the conversation, it gives hope for government reform grounded in a model that works.
Blank views the opportunity to transform entrepreneurial education as a way to pay it forward. You can access the tools and information in a number of ways. Books include Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win and The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company. In addition, The Lean LaunchPad class became available for free on Udacity this fall. Or if you want hands-on coaching, can check out Startup Weekend Next. Finally, you may want to subscribe to Blank’s blog.
I read The Four Steps to the Epiphany two years ago. Since then, it and Blank’s other work have become staple recommendations—largely because his business philosophy is as far from ‘make it and they will come’ as one can get. If you’ve struggled with finding your niche, Blank’s approach to entrepreneurship can provide the thrust needed to get off the launchpad and gain some altitude. An added benefit of attending Startup Weekend Next is that you’ll become part of a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.