Essential Tips for Lean Startups

BLG01x - edited feature imageLean startups aren’t easy to run. They require a massive amount of time, energy, and dedication. Blood, sweat, and tears alone won’t cut it – lean startups must have a plan of action to thrive.

What makes a lean startup success story? What makes lean startups fail? There’s no right or wrong way to run a company. There is no sure-fire recipe for success either.

Little decisions made over years determine the fate of a company with variables, both known and unknown, numbering in the thousands.

There may not be a magic spell you can cast to ensure success for your lean startup. That being said, there are some valuable tips you can use to better your odds.

Here are essential tips for lean startups:

Build an MVP

You’ve probably heard the term MVP before. The acronym stands for the minimum viable product. What’s so important about an MVP? It’s a proof of concept for your entire project. You’ll want to fashion one as soon as possible. For lean startups, it’s especially important to build a prototype as soon as possible.

Lean startups leverage an iterative process akin to agile, scrum, and other related project management methodologies. Many startups shy away from immediately building an MVP even though the MVP is vital to attracting investors, starting development, and engaging with potential customers.

Expect and Welcome Change

Lean isn’t for the faint of heart. Lean startups are run by incredibly driven entrepreneurs. Risk-averse managers should avoid the demanding environment that lean requires. Lean operates on the principle that expectations will change throughout the course of development. The product is not set in stone. The only way to measure progress is by making more complete versions of the product in cycles.

Not only should lean startups expect change, but they should also welcome it with open arms. Deviations from the original plan should not be seen as hurdles but as opportunities – even when they appear quite late in development.

Hire an Experienced Lean Project Manager

Experienced project managers are indispensable. Overstating the usefulness of a competent project manager is impossible. Teams of every size will benefit from an adept project manager who understands how to not only manage a project but manage the people –the talented individuals– that comprise the team.

Exceptional project managers should not only be proficient with project management tools. They need to be empathetic, patient, and communicative. They can quickly dissolve resentments that can bubble up from miscommunication and mistakes.

Experienced lean project managers are professional, producing tangible results by manipulating intangible variables, such as the team’s morale.

Lean startups are in need of strong leadership, and therefore the position of project manager is critical for a startup’s success.

Engage with Customers

Lean startups can only succeed if they are in constant correspondence with potential customers and users.

Like agile and other modern project management philosophies, lean project management is iterative. This means instead of a product being created in a linear way; a product is created, then improved, reviewed, and revisited cyclically.

Ultimately, your product is only as valuable as it is useful to your customers. Be in conversation with your customers by making versions of your product available in the form of a closed beta or a product survey. Keep gathering data even late in development. It’s never too late to tweak your product according to the market need.


Lean startups are difficult to launch. Doubtless, when developing a product, whether it’s a software product or a physical one, every company should have a plan in place. Lean startups can rely on a set of well-tested principles to guide them as they create this plan.

Lean startups should build an MVP, or minimum viable product, as soon as they possibly can. Change is the catalyst that keeps the iterative cycle going, so every member of the team should embrace it.

No matter how talented your team is, they will need an experienced project manager to take them to the finish line. Most importantly, lean startups have to continually engage with their customers to make the product development cycle useful and value generative.

Product development is never a walk in the park. Lean startups can utilize lean and Scrum principles to make things easier. Still, it’s vital to follow the four tried-and-true tips listed above as your project progresses.

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Anthony Coggine

Anthony Coggine

Anthony Coggine is a HR professional turned business analyst. He has spent more than 5 years as a recruitment consultant in a variety of industries, primarily focused on consumer technology and research. You may connect with him on Twitter @anthonycoggine or

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