Despite its incredibly long title, Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses has been a very successful and popular book since its release in 2011. The Lean Startup is a great book to have if you are going to launch or have recently launched a startup. Of course, in either case, you should be reading way more than just this – but this is undoubtedly a great place to start. It’s tested and true advice, and years of positive reviews seem to indicate that it really works. Aside from the utility of the advice itself, Lean Startup is great simply for its ability to clarify issues.
One thing that is great about the book is that it doesn’t focus only on brick-and-mortar businesses. Many business books do just that, but Ries explores the needs and conditions of startups in a variety of situations, including a number of non-traditional business scenarios. One of the most popular sections of the book is the case studies. Using the case studies as examples, Ries shows how you can learn valuable lessons for running a startup. Running a successful startup, he explains, is a teachable process: “Startup success can be engineered by following the process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.”
The book balances technical information with anecdotal evidence – and the author has a lot of useful anecdotal evidence to draw on. Ries came up with the idea for Lean Startup as a result of his own experience as the founder and advisor of various startups. His first startup failed due to a lack of understanding about its target customers. Next, he worked as an engineer at another startup that failed. Finally, in 2004 he co-founded IMVU, a 3D social network – and that startup succeeded.
The Lean Startup actually spawned a lean startup movement, which focuses on allocating resources as efficiently as possible. Some well-known companies like Dropbox, Intuit, and Grockit employ lean startup philosophy. That means that not only is the book tried and true – it was a New York Times #2 bestseller at one point – but also the philosophy undergirding it is tried and true.