Learning from Start-Ups

Listening to the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcasts can be a great source of inspiration not just for people deciding to venture out on their own, but can also spark new ways of thinking in leaders for established companies. I thought the key points from this lecture from Steve Blank applied to companies at all phases of their maturity:

  1. Utilize Agile development to ensure product development iterates based on customer feedback multiple times per week
  2. Prove that you are solving a problem or need a customer has. Get data that shows that there are customers who agree with you, and are willing to pay you money to deliver your products or services (or the new features for your products or services)
  3. While you are collecting the data from your customers, use it as an opportunity to find out even more about your customers – what additional needs do they have that you have not yet set out to solve?
  4. Establish an ongoing, continuous improvement feedback loop from your customers!
  5. Great engineers understand what customers need! Once you have identified the true market and customer for your product, make sure that product development and Information Technology are brought in to get direct feedback from your customers.
    • This is how you will identify if your products or services need to be re-engineered, but will also mitigate making changes for something that is not your core market.
  6. When companies become successful – the characteristics that made the founders good entrepreneurs may not be useful in establishing a company. When a company is growing the business, they need to create consistent, repeatable and scalable models.
    • Be willing to recognize when your leaders do not have the skill sets needed to take your company to the next level, and address them.

About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.
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