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I recommend this to every startup I mentor
on 15 August 2015
I have been involved in startups for over two decades. I am a member of an angel group, an investor in a number of startups and also mentor to numerous entrepreneurs. Ever since getting this book almost the first recommendation I make to entrepreneurs of whatever age and experience is get the book!
However I fear that the book is almost too accessible for its own good! I know a few people I have recommended it to who describe it as a 'coffee-table' book and frankly dismiss it. They seem to believe that without pain, long words, a high price and dense intellectual text there will be no value.
What Bill Aulet has done is filter his vast experience and knowledge to very sharp succinct text. It is only after seeing dozens of businesses fail that one can appreciate the depth of what Bill Aulet has written.
For new entrepreneurs what I recommend is that they use the book almost as a 'workbook' going through each chapter in turn and looking to write a couple of pages on how it can be translated into their own business. One of my big concerns about a lot of startups (especially in Europe and the UK) is that the entrepreneurs do inadequate research and modelling before they launch into the business - typical questions that are not properly answered are:
(1) What is a typical real life customer profile?
(2) What is the end customer willing to pay?
(3) What is the buying cycle and what are the hurdles you need to cross?
(4) Is there sufficient bottom up demand?
(5) Will you make any money even if you sell some product?
(6) How will you get your next 100 customers?
Indeed without answering the above questions you cannot work out how much money you will need for your startup - or frankly if it is worth spending the next several years of your life doing the startup.
Bill Aulet's book will help you answer these and other questions in a structured way. If you are serious about having a successful startup I would recommend using this book to help you develop your business plan. Frankly, if I was fresh faced and doing my own startup I would:
(1) Buy a copy of this book for each startup team member
(2) Have everyone read through it over a weekend
(3) Spend the following week working through the chapters step by step and working out a plan of action - eg how are you going to approach your lead customer; how are you going to get a beachhead etc.
(4) Then spend the following month or two working on the business plan and the workstreams that come from the above
(5) At the end of that you will have a far more robust business plan and increase your chances of success significantly
However the honest truth is that too many 'entrepreneurs' will 'glance' at this book, dismiss it as a coffee table book and only recognise years later that it could have helped them significantly....
... but if even one entrepreneur succeeds in his business due to my recommendation for this book and the action plan I suggest above then I will consider the time taken to write this review as time well spent.
If this book was in a dull cover, with matt paper and was padded out with 10 times the words (even if they added no extra information) and was priced several times more expensive then I suspect some of the entrepreneurs I mentor might take it more seriously. For the rest of the world - just appreciate that Bill Aulet is an MIT Professor - and students pay thousands to attend his course there.