Lean Startup Method (aka Bootstrapping)

What is the Lean Startup Method?

There is a big movement in the online business world right now.  It turns the old way of “thinking of an idea, building the product, then finding the customer” upside down, and says you shouldn’t build a product until you know you have paying customer.

For that matter, don’t even spend your time coming up with ideas –> come up with solutions.


So find your paying customer or audience first, figure out their problems and “pain points” and then figure out a solution to their problem.  People will pay for solutions.  They won’t necessarily pay for your “ideas.”


Here is an offline, real world business example I just thought of.

Tanya decides to start a lawn maintenance business.  She spends hours of time and lots of money designing a logo, getting business cards, ordering uniforms, and purchasing the most expensive lawn mower she can afford.

Then she goes door to door and asks if they need their lawn cut.  But she is rejected time and time again. She can’t understand. These people have unsightly lawns with shin-high grass and weeds popping up everywhere.

She finally asks a man, “I respect your decision, but may I ask why don’t you want me to cut your lawn?”

The man goes on to tell her that the weeds are an invasive plant that has been taking over the area, and it’s seeds are spread further by a lawn mower. So mowing it would aggravate the problem. That’s why she had no customers.



So you can see how Tanya went about this all wrong.

She had the idea of starting a lawn company. She bought the tools. Then she tried to find customers.

This is often the way businesses are started though.  That is why businesses end up needing expensive advertising budgets and marketing plans because now they have to convince people to buy their product or services.


In the new “lean startup” way of thinking what should Tanya have done?

Well, if we flip the old way upside down we see that finding customers or an audience comes first.

1) She should have walked the neighbourhood first, gone door to door and talked to people. (Customers)


So she meets the people first. She asks them about their lawns.

2) What problems are you having with your lawn?  Is there ways you’d like to see your lawn look better?  (Problems)


She determines the problem they are having with their lawns and why they look so mangy.

3) She purchases a $2 lawn shovel and a bucket to throw the weeds in. (Solution)


Now Tanya can go back to the neighbourhood, armed with her little shovel, and she can offer a solution to the problem these people have.  “Hi there, would you like me to save your back by removing all these invasive weeds for you?  I even offer removal.”  She lifts up her bucket and smiles .

Will they pay?  Yes.  Not everyone will, but at least some will because she is providing a solution.


With this leaner method of starting a business you can see how it makes more sense.  Less money is required to start it, and you don’t have to spend so much time and money “convincing” people of your idea.


Jon Morrow on his “Boost Blog Traffic” website summarized it as “Your Product Ideas Suck,” and that unless you’re Steve Jobs you shouldn’t try and convince people they have a problem to fix.  Instead you need to solve a problem they already know exists.

Jon goes on to say that survey results can be misleading…so to keep it simple he asks only one question. “What is your biggest issue or frustration with ______ right now?”



I was talking to a friend about how I wanted to learn online business and I mentioned this approach, and she said it sounded “weasley”.


Do you have an opinion on this?  I’d like to hear what others have learned…for better or worse.


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