Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Summary: The Lean Startup MVP startup approach is seriously wrong. It is an expensive lottery ticket, luring people to jump or plunge and bypassing preparation and hardwork of relation building and marketing preparation.
The book "Lean Startup" is popular among young entrepreneurs. The book advocates a low budget approach of startup - make something you can make alone, approach people on the Internet and see if anyone likes it, and rapidly improve. Minimal build (Minimal Viable Product), Minimal money spent, minimal experience. Sounds like a get quick rich scheme, in retrospect.
The MVP is an expensive startup lottery ticket.
It is the wrong approach although it seems sensible and possible. The reason why Lean Startup MVP is dangerous is the following:
Many people look for problems to solve and make solutions on a haunch, such as SaaS solutions. There are reasons why "solving a problem for a stranger" or "build it and they will come" will not work. For the flow of this blog, the reasons are listed here.
Many people with no skills think that this is some kind of short cut and is forever puzzled by the legitimacy of this approach. It actually causes startup action seizure and fallacy - in the long run it hurts rather than helps.
Lean approach encouraged too many people who are not qualified to quit their job to day dream about side hustles or solopreneurship. They are badly prepared. They create products that no one will buy, or they create companies that are totally unprofitable. Most startups fail after three years.
Although no one can argue that MVP approach won't work, it is irresponsible like buying a lottery. Except that the cost and attention to details of a startup would sink most sincere people. The Lean Startup book should come with a caution: "Do not try this alone at home".
In the end, the Gurus of Lean Startup makes money by preaching. This include the Shopify guru, the dropshipping guru, the SaaS guru, and the FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) gurus. The followers largely struggles or even lose their jobs while badly prepared.
The gurus are irresponsible because they make many people believe they can somehow win without preparation. They might just be engineers or students and somehow fancy being a CEO or cool entrepreneur title writing codes. This is wrong.
We make too many fallacy driven entrepreneurs, too many people quitting jobs and quitting their "bad job". Yes there is a chance to make money, but you won't have good business. Yes there is chance to make product on your own, but marketing takes money, and investors won't help a bad business.
The Lean Startup entrepreneurs or wantrepreneurs share somethings in common:
they never left school and don't have society and industry experience.
they have perfection view of the world and wants to introduce brand new elements to make problems go away for people they don't know.
they have the "improvement" view of the world and believes that making something better would be welcome.
they have some skills (such as programming skills) but had no experience marketing and selling things in the past. They think marketing is easy. But it is the hardest thing on earth.
they largely hold their idea secret and wants to do solopreneurship, trying to startup without a partner.
they do not understand how intricate the market and customer demands are.
Lean Startup MVP lottery will bait people into fallacy of "easy money" entrepreneurship and miss real growth.
Most often it will trap people into three scenarios:
no quality product. You can not sell what you can build, and you can not build what you can sell.
no profit. You can pay your employees but never yourself.
no growth. Many people are so tired just to make money they can never get off the treadmill and can never grow bigger.
Good judgement comes from experience, which mostly comes from bad judgement.
The most important symptoms of Lean Startup MVP journey are the following:
Many people spend a lot of time thinking about too many ideas. they forever remain a hobbyist without realizing it;
Many people spend a lot of time on one idea, whereas in fact it has been done;
People think a brand new thing, a solution, a bright idea is what the world will need or appreciate or even buy;
Spend too much time building a technical product or APP and then start wondering how to find customers;
Some successful at making a company of a few people end up getting out of shape, mentally stressed, have no money to pay themselves, and build a company with no growth potential at all.
The biggest obstacle for Lean Startup is not the product, it is the market.
Let's use the analogy of of fishing. If the world of startup and entrepreneurship is fishing, then the entrepreneurs are the bait makers. Their business is to catch fish. But many lean startup "fisherman" has no experience. They make up a random MVP bait that they think is top notch interesting. After they make the bait they want to throw it into the nearly body of lake and see what fish would bite. This is what we mean by lottery.
The right approach is to understand what the lakes are, which fish likes what, and then make the bait according. This is the serious right approach to startup.
Startup starts with understanding your audience and market. Deep preparation and reconnaissance. There is no short cut.
For many, the lottery ticket becomes too expensive. They have made irreversible decisions about school and job, with optimistic views only newbies can have. If you are stuck with a company that has no room to scale or grow, it will be not proportional reward for the sacrifice. Here we have links to scary MVP stories. Link. Link. Link.
People gain weight, have issues with GF/BFs, lose sleeps, get depressed even if they are the CEO and making money. The minute you stop working the minute the money will stop coming, and that is the good scenario where you were lucky to find traction.
Startup is the best way to learn how the world works. Failure is absolutely the path to success, and first failure is absolutely mandatory. Try to make your first startup not your last. I know this is against everything you have been taught so far. But STARTUP is learning the really valuable knowledge, which is something no one teaches you. Schools and books are just cheap alternatives to real learning. A business school or an accelerator of startup class is like the driving school - you have to get on the road and become road smart on your own.
Real knowledge is what no one will teach you. Hence you must experience it.
Veterans take opportunities, do the hard things, and make money.
Newbie beginners take chances, think of vacuums, and dream of impractical ideas that sounds necessary.
Veterans know everything is hard and they still fight.
Newbies assume things can be easy and they end up struggling.
If you are undecided as to if you want to quit your job, if this idea is good, what you should do to prepare, please visit http://www.teensharks.us, the startup school. We guarantee to answer questions and remove the cloud hanging over the "entrepreneurship theater".
To startup, prepare. Do side hustles purposely that both give you realism and at low cost. Don't jump or plunge through the Lean MVP cult. The first and best preparation is experience a failure, but not an MVP lottery bait that you can not get out of.
GOOD LUCK! either way you are a hero.