What’s The Lean Startup? And Can B2B Startups Apply its Methodology?


Lean Startup is a term entrepreneur and author Eric Ries coined in 2008 for a methodology for developing and introducing new products or services to the market.

With the Lean Startup, entrepreneurs identify the riskiest parts of their business model. Then, for each risky area, they create hypotheses that are validated through various experiments with code, marketing, customers, users, suppliers, etc.

The Build-Measure-Learn Loop in B2B Lean Startup

When the hypothesis proves true, it becomes “validated learning,” something you can build on. When it turns out to be false, you move on to another hypothesis.

The basis for this cycle of validation is the Build- Measure-Learn feedback loop illustrated to the left, where ideas are built into experiments, which are then measured and analyzed to learn and improve the product.

The Lean Startup is, at its core, a risk-reduction methodology that allows entrepreneurs to gain maximum insight by building the minimum number of features.

In September 2011, Eric Ries released the much-anticipated book of the same name. The principles in Lean StartupTM have caught on and are now being introduced in startups and large enterprises all around the world.

Can The Lean Startup Work in B2B?

While the core principles of the Lean Startup apply just as well to B2B (the goal is also to reduce waste), the techniques used are very different.

In B2B, entrepreneurs are building fewer relationships and thus can’t change the product overnight.

Sales cycles are long, products are complicated and many stakeholders need to get involved for a sale to happen. The more proximity with customers you have, the more likely you are to succeed.

The Lean Startup, at its core, is about innovation, not relationships. It does not capture the intricacies of creating mutually beneficial partnerships with business stakeholders.

The Lean Startup methodology can work in B2B if it’s combined with methodologies like customer development and the New Strategic Selling.


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