The 18 Best Quotes from Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want


One of the best things about writing a book like Lean B2B is getting to speak with dozens of entrepreneurs trying to understand what challenges they had to overcome and what made them successful.

Writing Lean B2B was life-changing. The research and writing process taught me so much about entrepreneurship, success, failure, B2B customer development, venture capital and startups. It’s unfortunate that some of the great lessons had to be left out.

There’s a lot more in the book, but these are some of the quotes I feel should be circulating a bit more broadly:

On what constitutes a startup:

When you stop failing you stop being a startup.Fred Lalonde, Hopper Co-Founder and CEO

On the importance of Product-Market Fit:

The life of any startup can be divided into two parts – before product/market fit and after product/market fit.Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz General Partner and Serial Entrepreneur

On why building a startup is difficult:

New products are inherently hard to launch because both the problem and solution are unknown.Eric Ries, The Lean Startup Author

On why entrepreneurs should consider B2B:

I’m a fan of B2B startups because the paths through success are clearer. They’re not easier, but they’re clearer: solve a very painful problem and charge people money to do so. In B2B, if you’re not solving a significant problem, you tend to know pretty quickly.Ben Yoskovitz, Highline Beta Founding Partner

On B2B customer development:

Start a business where you can get access to customers easily.Max Cameron, Kera Co-Founder and CEO

Customers don’t care about your solution. They care about their problems.Dave McClure, 500 Startups Founding Partner and Investor

On finding early adopters:

If you can’t find early adopters, you can’t build a business.Trevor Owens, Lean Startup Machine CEO

On finding customers in B2B:

Businesses are easier to find (than consumers); they’re in the phonebook. – Ben Yoskovitz and Alistair Croll, Lean Analytics authors

Find companies targeting your market, get close to them.Steve Blank, The Four Steps to the Epiphany Author

On figuring out who to sell to:

The person you want to sell to is the person with the pain and/or the money.Ken Morse, MIT Entrepreneurship Center Founding Managing Director, 1996-2009

On building credibility:

If you’re small, admit that you’re small. You look small by acting big. People can see straight through that.Chris Savage, Wistia Co-Founder and CEO

On the importance of mitigating risk:

Consumers love novelty; businesses just call it risk. – Ben Yoskovitz and Alistair Croll, Lean Analytics authors

On the importance of estimating the return on investment of your solution:

There’s no luxury in B2B; there’s only profitability. It’s essential to know your ROI. Cost justification is a critical part of selling in B2B. – Martin Huard, Admetric Co-Founder and CEO

On why customers buy:

B2B buyers are not buying your product, they’re buying into your approach to solving their problem. They’re not just buying from the best feature provider, they’re buying from the company that is most aligned with their view of the world. – Jeff Ernst, ‎SlapFive Co-founder and CEO

On customer relationships:

Clients should be perceived as coworkers and not just customers. They should have the same goals as your business.Don Charlton, The Resumator Founder and CEO

On real customer validation:

You don’t know until someone actually swipes a credit card.Mehdi Ait Oufkir, Co-Founder of PunchTab

On competition:

… though rarely perceived as a competitor, Microsoft Excel is almost always an actual competitor for software startups. – Joshua Porter, HubSpot Ex-Director of User Experience

On the first 18 months of your business:

The only thing that matters in the first 12-18 months of a company is figuring out how to get your product in the hands of the right people. A lot of people can build a product, but really figuring out what your market is and how to reach them is the biggest obstacle to getting a business off the ground.Ranjith Kumaran, PunchTab Co-Founder

Bonus – On disruption:

Entrepreneurs are told all the time to go find advisors that are in that domain. Now, it’s great to have advisors that are in order to get connections – to figure out who to sell to, but if you’re actually taking advices about whether your disruption is gonna work then the person with 20-30 years in the industry is the last person you want to ask.Brant Cooper, Lean Entrepreneur Author and Entrepreneur


Download the First 6 Chapters of Lean B2B for Free

This 80-page sampler will cover the major differences between B2B and Business-to- Customer (B2C) product-market validation, show you new techniques to define your vision for success, find early adopters, select market opportunities and assess the risk of ventures. Download your Sampler Today »