Lean Start-up

Laptop and people working

Lean Startup helps entrepreneurs reduce the cost of developing new products and services by ensuring that they do not waste time and money designing features that customers do not want.

It emphasises the importance of getting customer feedback from the earliest stage of the development process. Many believe that application of Lean Startup principles gives entrepreneurs a better chance of success without needing large amounts of outside funding and the need to develop elaborate business plans. These are some key terms used in Lean Startup:

  • Value Proposition: A statement that summarises why a customer should buy your product/service. It should focus on how this product/service will solve a problem experienced by the customer or provide an enhancement to a specific aspect of their lives.
  • Business Model Canvas: A visual chart which describes all the key elements which make up an existing or proposed business model. These include their value proposition, target customer groups and how they will be reached, and the various aspects of the business infrastructure which will enable them to deliver the value proposition to the customers.
  • Value Proposition Canvas: This is a visual chart which can be used in conjunction with the Business Model Canvas and enables you to explore in detail the customer segments you will be serving and how you will use your value proposition to meet their needs.
  • Lean Canvas:  An adaptation of the Business Model Canvas which adds new segments such as ‘Problem’, ‘Solution’, ‘Key Metrics’ and ‘unfair advantage’.
  • Customer Development: An approach to business development which advocates businesses seeking customer feedback before investing large amounts of time and money in developing a product/service as this feedback will substantially increase the likelihood of ultimately delivering something for which that customers will pay.
  • Minimum Viable Product: An experiment which enables a business to test how customers will respond to a new product/service without investing large sums in developing the full product/service.
  • Pivot: This describes making a substantial change to a product/service direction in response to customer feedback or the results of a minimum viable product experiment.  

Small Business Help Books

This is a collection of books with practical information aimed at those starting and running a business. Located by the entrance to the Business & IP Centre.

The Lean Start-up: how today's entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses by Eric Ries (Crown Business, 2011) (Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [SBH ODHR.68] 
The definitive introduction to the theory and practice of Lean Startup, written by the founder of the Lean Startup movement. 

Summary and analysis of The lean startup: how today's entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses based on the book by Eric Ries (Worth Books, 2017). SB(Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre)  [SBH. ODHR.56]

Business model generation: a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur (John Wiley & Sons, 2010)  (Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [SBH MNG.115] 
Developing and testing a successful business model lies at the heart of the Lean Startup philosophy. This book identifies the key ‘building blocks’ of a successful business model and introduces the ‘Business Model Canvas’ which is a key tool for identifying, illustrating and validating these.

Value proposition design by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, Alan Smith; designed by Trish Papadakos (John Wiley & Sons 2014). Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [SBH PDIP.75]
This book looks at how to apply tools like the ‘Value Proposition Canvas’ to design and test ideas for products and services that customers actually want. 

Lean analytics: use data to build a better startup faster by Alistair Croll, Benjamin Yoskovitz (O'Reilly, 2013) (Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [SBH 658] [ODHR.44 2013]
Identifies tools and methods for measuring the progress of the development of a business idea.

Running lean: iterate from plan A to a plan that works by Ash Maurya (O'Reilly Media; 2 edition, 2012) (Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [ODHR.52]
Running Lean introduces an ideal tool for business managers, CEOs, small business owners, developers and programmers, and anyone who’s interested in starting a business project.

Lean customer development: building products your customers will buy by Cindy Alvarez (O'Reilly, June 2014) (Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [(B) SBH 658.575]
Shows you how to validate product ideas through customer development research rather than wasting time and money on a product or service that no one needs or wants.

The Lean Product Playbook; how to innovate with minimum viable products and rapid customer feedback by Dan Olsen (Wiley 2015) (Business & IP Centre) [SBH ODHR.67]
A practical guide to building products that customers love.

Lean startups for social change: the revolutionary path to big impact by Michel Gelobter (EDS Publications 2015) (Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [SBH ODHR.48]

Scaling lean: Mastering the key metrics for startup growth by Ash Maurya. (Portfolio Penguin 2016) (Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [SBH. ODHR.54] Identifies the key metrics for assessing the success of a business model.

UX for lean startups: faster, smarter user experience research and design by Laura Klein. (O'Reilly, 2018). (Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [SBH. ODHR.115]  
Focus on how to develop products which deliver a great user experience.

The lean entrepreneur: how visionaries create products, innovate with new ventures, and disrupt markets by Brant Cooper. (Wiley 2016). (Small Business Help Section, Business & IP Centre) [SBH ODHR.66]

The startup way: how entrepreneurial management transforms culture and drives growth by Eric Ries (Portfolio Penguin, 2017) (Business & IP Centre) [SBH. STAR.125]

A sample of articles available via online resources in the Business & IP Centre

Available via ABI Inform 

The Minimum Viable Product Infection Kaminska Izabella. FT.com; London (Mar 14, 2016).

How do entrepreneurs think they create value? A scientific reflection of Eric Ries' Lean Startup approach Frederiksen, Dennis Lyth; Brem, Alexander. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal; New York Vol. 13, Iss. 1 (Mar 2017)

Minimum Viable Products for Internet of Things Applications: Common Pitfalls and Practices Nguyen-Duc, Anh; Khan, Khalid; Sohaib Shahid Bajwa; Lønnestad, Tor. Future Internet; Basel Vol. 11, Iss. 2, (Feb 2019).  DOI:10.3390/fi11020050

Why Large Companies Struggle With Lean Klotz, Frieda MIT Sloan Management Review; Cambridge Vol. 61, Iss. 2,  (Winter 2020)

Available via Business Source Complete

Using Lean Startup to Power Organizational Transformation: Creating an internal division that implemented concepts from Lean Startup helped a consumer electronics firm foster an entrepreneurial mindset among employees Hwang, Seonho; Shin, Juneseuk. Research Technology Management. Sep/Oct2019, Vol. 62 Issue 5, p40 – 49.

What the Lean Startup Method Gets Right and Wrong Mollick, Ethan. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles. 10/21/2019, p2 – 4.

Reflection of Literature on using Lean Innovation Models for Start-Up Ventures GALLI, Galli, Brian J Journal of Modern Project Management. Sep – Dec 2019, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p6 – 18.

Teaching GE to Think Like a Startup Ries, Eric. Fortune (10/17/2017), p224 – 224

The Limits of the Lean Startup Method Ladd, Ted. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles (3/7/2016), p2 – 3 

Lean Startups: Using the Business Model Canvas Onken, Marina; Campeau, Danielle. Journal of Case Studies (May 2016), Vol. 34 Issue 1, p95 – 101

Minimum viable (localized) product Beatty, Jeff. MultiLingual (Dec 2017), Vol. 28 Issue 9, p52 – 55. 4p

Business News & Journals

In order to find the latest news on your topic it is always worth searching Factiva, Business Source Complete and EMIS.

You will find articles from specialist business and academic journals, as well as newspapers and magazines. You may also find market research reports and case studies. As well as profiles of leading industry figures.

You will also find articles covering recent developments, and predicting future trends in your industry.

Internet Sources

Websites containing free sources of industry statistics, information and contacts.


The Lean Start-Up  

A web resource and community based around Eric Ries and The Lean Startup book. 

The Lean Startup Co 

Shares educational ideas, stories, and lessons year-round with individuals and companies of all sizes and sectors. 

Steve Blank

Website of the creator of the concept of customer development. 

Business Model Generation

Resource centre for the Business Model Canvas, including apps, toolkits and other downloads. 

Social Business Model Canvas  

An adaptation of the Business Model Canvas for social enterprises. 

Videos - Lean Startup Overviews

Lean Startup in 5 minutes (or less)

The Startup Way. Eric Ries

Storyboard of the Lean Startup Introduction. StoryboardItsbetter

Embracing Hypothesis-Driven Design. Cindy Alvarez. 2015

How to Reinvent Your Organization – Aaron Dignan. Lean Startup Conference 2018

Lean Impact: Revolutionizing Social Good with the Lean Startup – Ann Mei Chang and Eric Ries. Lean Startup Conference 2018

Videos - Customer Development

The Entrepreneurs Library: A Look Inside ‘Lean Customer Development’ by Cindy Alvarez

Rob Fitzpatrick, How to Learn from Customers when Everyone is Lying to You

Customer Discover Hacks: CustomerDevLabs

Who do you interview? 


How to find your customers


What do you ask?  


Analysing your customer interview results? 

LiffftInc: How to Approach Strangers for Customer Interviews


LiffftInc, Good and Bad Examples of Customer Interview Questions

Videos - Business Model Canvas

Business Model Canvas Explained. Strategyzer

The Value Proposition Canvas. Strategyzer

Ways to present The Business Model Canvas. Strategyzer

The Business Model Canvas - 9 Steps to Creating a Successful Business Model - Startup Tips

Videos - Lean Canvas

Capture your Business Model in 20 Minutes: Lean Canvas. Ash Maurya


How to Create Your Lean Canvas. Alanis Business Academy

Videos - Minimum Viable Product

8 methods to test your minimal viable product. The Lean Playbook

Minimum Viable Product, Eric Ries 

What is a Minimum Viable Product. Ash Maurya

What does Minimum Viable Product (MVP) mean? Customer Development Labs

Making sense of MVP: The CRM Team

Creating Your Minimum Viable Product with Abbie Fichtner. Harvard i-lab

Blogs and Podcasts

Startup Lessons Learned

Lean Startup Blog by Eric Ries the founder of the Lean Startup movement

Lean Startup Podcast

Lean Startup Co Blog

Steve Blank Podcast

Lean the Fxxk Out

Some explicit language.

The Minimum Viable Show