Million Dollars: Get Past The Idea And Launch

I should own stock in Post-It. The number of ideas that may or may not eventually turn into a million dollars are stuck all over my world. Bathroom mirror, kitchen cabinets, and never mind finding the top of my computer.

Of course that’s all they are now. Unrealized products, devices, apps and online sites that would blow your mind. Well, that is up for discussion. So why do so many of us stop at this step?

Making that million. Smarter.

Eric Ries interview in Wired Issue 19.09 helps bring some of the misconceptions of ideas to reality for entrepreneurs. His new book “The Lean Startup” explains a lot about why we just don’t know everything about starting a company.

A little background on Eric.

Eric is the author of the popular blog Startup Lessons Learned and the creator of the Lean Startup methodology. He co-founded and served as CTO of IMVU, his third startup, which has today has over 40 million users and 2009 revenue over $22 million. An entrepreneur in residence at Harvard Business School and a frequent speaker at business events, he advises startups on business and product strategy using the Lean Startup approach.

A-ha! Moments

One of my favorite parts of this quick Q&A was the misconceptions we all have about what starting a company looks like.

Wired: What are the most common misconceptions that people have about starting a company?

Eric Ries: We still believe that entrepreneurial success is about being in the right place at the right time with the right idea. But there’s no empirical evidence that’s true. In fact, there’s actually tons of evidence that it isn’t true.

By this section of the interview, I was already on Amazon pulling up the “The Lean Startup”.

Wired: So the key is to be able to change your vision–or your entire company–on the fly?

Ries: Exactly.

Wired: How do you do that?

Ries: Continuous deployments. People believe that if you go slower you’ll get a better outcome–you can fix the bugs. But that’s not true. The slower you go, the bigger the batch size and the more things go wrong. What if customers don’t want your product? Do you want to find that out after you’ve built the whole product or only a tiny sliver of it?

Continuous deployments

Continuously deploy is something we’ve heard for a while, but I’ve seen it in action recently with my new product obsession I talked about last week. This always sounds so scary and potentially disastrous until you get to see it from the side of the consumer.

Here is what continuous deployment has brought to my consumer experience:

  • New features I’ve started using immediately – even before I received the email announcing
  • Active online community that listens to consumers
  • Tools that are up-datable on the fly
  • Apps that mold themselves to my preferences

Still aren’t sure you want to take the next step on that million dollar idea? Nothing great ever comes easy, but something tells me “The Lean Startup” might give you some great ideas to act on.

– Heather

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Heather’s dream is to share with the world her success at becoming healthy after age 40. Heather lost over 88 pounds through changing her diet and incorporating exercise into her busy life. She would like to take what she has learned about becoming fit after 40, and using her Metabolic Training Certification to help others struggling with weight issues mid-life. Heather’s post day is Monday.
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  • FYI As I said before, this site is loading very slow.

  • I love his idea of the 5 whys —

    “Start-ups supposedly don’t have time for detailed processes and procedures. And yet the key to startup speed is to maintain a disciplined approach to testing and evaluating new products, features, and ideas. As start-ups scale, this agility will be lost unless the founders maintain a consistent investment in that discipline. Techniques from lean manufacturing can be part of a startup’s innovation culture.

    One such technique is called Five Whys, which has its origins in the Toyota Production System, and posits that behind every supposedly technical problem is actually a human problem. Applied to a start-up, here’s how it works:

    1. A new release broke a key feature for customers. Why? Because a particular server failed.
    2. Why did the server fail? Because an obscure subsystem was used in the wrong way.
    3. Why was it used in the wrong way? The engineer who used it didn’t know how to use it properly.
    4. Why didn’t he know? Because he was never trained.
    5. Why wasn’t he trained? Because his manager doesn’t believe in training new engineers, because they are “too busy.”

    You should write and ask him for an interview after you finish reading the book. :)

    Cath