7 Lean Startup Lessons for Every Entrepreneur

I was lucky enough to attend The Lean Startup Conference the past few days in San Francisco.  The conference had a great mix of passionate people from a variety of industries all interested in using lean startup principles and frameworks to improve their organizations.  Attendees and speakers ranged from early stage startups, to huge technology companies like Intuit, to some of the largest organizations in the world like GE.  

Needless to say, I met lots of interesting people and learned a lot.  It's hard to sum it all up, but I thought I would share the 7 best takeaways for me from the conference in hopes that they may help you in your lean startup journey.

1) "How your customers learn about your product is part of your product. The medium is the message." - Patrick Vlaskovits (@pv), author of The Lean Entrepreneur

Game-changing startups often create a whole new category of product or service.  With a new category often comes the need to rethink/reinvent the way your customers learn about your product/service.  True growth hackers find and/or create completely new mediums to do marketing that is unique to their particular product/service.  

2) "Hiding problems is the most anti-lean practice." John Shook, Toyota

Being transparent and facing problems head on is the only way to really improve. Ignoring or hiding problems only leads to more problems, plus it prevents you from testing and iterating in order to find the right solution.

3) "Your culture ends up being an emergent property of the people you hire." - Ari Gesher (@alephbass), Senior Software Engineer @PalantirTech

Culture isn't something created on a whiteboard.  It's all about thinking critically about each person you hire, especially early on, as these people will determine the culture of the company.

4) "Get laser focused on your users; who they are, where they are, where are they hiding." Kathryn Minshew (@kmin), Founder @DailyMuse

Every startup is different.  It's critical to key in on your users early on and learn as much about them as possible.  Partnering with groups with similar user bases is often helpful, and the more you know about your early users, the easier it is to figure out where to go to find more users.

5) You should only work if what you're working on is the most valuable thing. - Dan Milstein (@danmil), Co-Founder @Hut8Labs

People often think they are better off looking busy and "working" just so they don't get into trouble.  The amount of time you work doesn't correlate directly with the quality of your work.  What's important is that you're working on the right things.

6) "You can't manage your way out of a bad team." Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt), Founder @WordPress

Hiring is key.  Team, team, team.

7) Give back, teach, help out first and you then become the person to know. - Kevin Dewalt (@kevindewalt), 4x startup founder

Good entrepreneurs have a give first attitude.  By giving back and helping others first, you establish yourself as someone worth knowing and build much stronger and more valuable relationships.


Michael Hughes

VP Community Development, CoFoundersLab