Founder Mindset: Lean Startup VS Field of Dreams
How Did You Get Here?
Whether you intentionally made the decision or simply had a great idea and now find yourself on the journey, starting a company is a big step.
You may be excited about the flexibility it will bring. Or answering to no one but yourself. There are many reasons why you should, or shouldn’t proceed, but the mentality you have going into this journey is critical.
There are many challenges to overcome, but today we are going to discuss the mindset – the mental framework you have – when setting out on this journey. We will look at 2 sides of a scale – The Lean Startup and The Field of Dreams. Depending on who you talk to, you are going to have very different answers on how to pursue your adventure. But first – what are they?
Field of Dreams
The Field of Dreams mentality says, “if you build it, they will come.” If you have an idea to solve a problem, there are other people out there experiencing this same problem and they are going to want your solution. Whether you are a programmer coming up with a genius piece of code, a tradesperson that has put together a game-changing prototype, or a researcher that has found ground-breaking formula – if you have a good product, there are people out there that will find you.
Why & Who
This approach is often taken on by the most innovative people – they believe in what they are doing and are consumed by their solution. It is often someone doing groundbreaking research or someone that is truly passionate about a solution. The Field of Dreams mentality helps these people leave their jobs, and pursue an amazing opportunity.
The logic behind this mentality makes sense, to a degree. If you have something interesting, people will naturally hear about it and be, well, interested. If you have the cure to cancer, the people will find you. If you have the solution to procrastination, you will be rich. In marketing, this refers to a product-focused market and simplified greatly, comes down to what is “interesting.” Does interesting mean it’s different? Does it mean it’s better?
The Lean startup is another approach, and caters to a customer-focused market. The Lean Startup mentality says, our assumptions about our solution are often wrong. And the way to deal with this is to take an iterative, experiment-based approach to validate these ideas. Rather than focusing on the product, the lean startup methodology looks to test the market as quickly as possible.
Why & Who
This mentality is held by a lot of entrepreneurial minded individuals. Testing assumptions as a scientific hypothesis, they gather data, analyze, and make decisions based on the conclusions. This type of person is often seen as opportunistic, but often needs to recognize opportunities far before they are acknowledged by the early majority.
The logic behind this consumer-focused market makes sense as well. There are a lot of products/services out there, so for yours to succeed, it needs to fill a gap in the marketplace. This type of person claims that if you have the cure to cancer, people will not come to you “because you have discovered and created a fantastic product,” they will come to you because “they have cancer and no one else has the cure for cancer.”
So Which is Better?
This is a polarized argument, and the truth is people must understand the necessity for both sides. You need market pull regardless of how great your product is – but if your product is truly great, the people will come!
It comes down to the market you are servicing. With early stage markets that are still developing, the Field of Dreams approach makes sense. Think medications to terminal diseases: Chemotherapy has a mediocre chance of cancer mitigation but comes with a slew of terrible side effects on top of being extremely expensive – people still line up to do it.
What about over serviced or mature markets like T-shirt sales. If you make a T-shirt that is not unique and servicing a very specific need, it is extremely difficult to beat out the market leaders in price and quality.
Both approaches have their space, but with globalization making products and services available across larger geographical areas, we are moving towards a consumer-focused market. If consumers don’t like what is available locally, they’ll often find something online that is better suited to their needs. As markets mature, and the world becomes ever more connected, the Lean Startup methodology becomes more prevalent.
As such it is important to understand the market you are entering before you found your business.
About the Author
Ventrify is a product design and manufacture firm that helps entrepreneurs bring product ideas from concept to market. We take in fledgling ideas and bring them through our iterative design process to create products our clients can be proud of. Then, we work with manufacturing facilities across the world to bring our clients the highest quality products at competitive prices.