An excerpt from a post on London Open Coffee:
“I’m really bored of hearing of lean, and business model canvas, and kanban and some other cool word. Old methods work, and for some reason (possibly lack of money) we startups are moving farther (further …who knows) away from techniques which really work, and have been tried and tested by companies for decades….. Lets bring back cold calling, and the hard art of selling, as opposed to pitch decks, bring back the importance of marketing as opposed to just focusing on a great product.”
Hmmm. So in summary then let’s have…
- More cold calling
- More products that no-one wants
- More wasted marketing spend
- More 30 page business plans that no-one reads and are simply guesswork?
Not my idea of fun.
Sales & marketing are clearly necessary but it’s a hell of a lot easier with a great product that people actually want. Best to save your marketing spend for when you’re looking to scale and have some solid traction. Or even better create a remarkable product that gets people talking (based on a great brand, clear value proposition, seamless user experience, etc). Positive PR = free marketing. Even better I’d say.
The premise of lean is reducing waste (whether budget, time, resource). Interested to understand why anyone could see this as a bad thing?
Traditional techniques work. Really?
I guess it depends on the definition of a startup. If you’re talking about setting up a new flower shop, then more traditional techniques may still be valid (although I’d still argue that a lot can be streamlined to accelerate learning). But if you’re looking to disrupt an industry and create a truly innovative product then these just don’t cut it.
I’d much rather focus on
- Less selling and more listening
- Less guessing and more learning
- Less documenting and more doing
The fact that the majority of startups fail means that things ARE broken. Rather than live in a blind bubble of hope, why not find out the bad news earlier and learn from it before wasting your cash/time/energy?
Also I believe that Steve Blank is an ‘old fashioned guy’ but he has learnt after 40 years working in Silicon Valley that startups are NOT smaller versions of large companies, hence the need for a different approach. The key difference being that startups are searching for a viable business model, not looking to execute one – hence the need for close customer involvement throughout those key early stages.
It all depends on your priorities I guess. Clearly no process is a silver bullet and you need to choose the right tools for the job depending on the context. Having worked with tons of startups over the last 10 years I realise that each has its own priorities. But I’ve yet to meet one that doesn’t want to reduce risk in some way.