By Simon Cocking, review of The Start-Up Owner’s Manual, by Steven Blank and Bob Dorf
The Start-Up Owner’s Manual (ISBN: 9781119690689) is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide that details the process for building a successful, profitable, scalable startup. Split into four distinct sections – Getting Started, Customer Discovery, Customer Validation, and a series of Customer Development Checklists that help readers track their progress at every stage of the Customer Development journey – it walks entrepreneurs through the process that gets them out of the building, to where customers live, and developing winning products that customers will buy.
The Start-Up Owner’s Manual reviewed
First published in 2012, this is a slightly updated and revised version now released and published by Wiley in 2020. Steve Blank, with this book and also The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win by Steve Blank which we also reviewed earlier this week, had a huge impact on the startup scene, both in California, the US, and subsequently globally too.
There is a lot of logic, common sense, and structure in this book, and it is easy to see why it has had such an impact and inspired many of those who followed, including Eric Ries and Alexander Osterwalder among others who have then further expanded on his concepts with the Lean Startup book and the Business Model Canvas. While those elaborations have followed on from Blank and Dorf’s book, there is still a lot of value in returning to the original source book.
It is a long book, and not intended to only be used once. Rather it is intended to be well thumbed, used often and referred to repeatedly. Appendix A for example offers great value as it provides a series of smart checklists for various aspects of what you need to be keeping in mind as you build and grow your business. Blank has been through the startup process eight times alone with his own companies and then many many times as an advisor, director or otherwise involved with many other companies.
We’d recommend reading this book, so many potentially good companies have made dumb mistakes along the way and failed to make it to a successful resolution, whereas if they had absorbed some of the lessons in this book they might still be in business. You have nothing to lose by taking the time to read this book, and a whole lot to gain.
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