How to Start a New Business Using the Lean Startup Method (part 8 – key activities)

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photo courtesy of Sonya Song under creative commons license

Launched in tech university entrepreneur programs in California, the Lean Startup Method is expanding to other universities across the United States. After studying the failures of tech startups, the main goal of the Lean Startup Method is to eliminate all time, energy and money spent on creating products or services that nobody wants to buy. This method is intended for startup businesses, but it can also apply to existing businesses that want to grow.

The Lean Startup Method involves several learning steps. The eighth step is to identify your key activities. Like key resources and key partners, key activities will be different depending on what kind of business you are starting.

This step does not have to be the eighth step, following mechanically from all of the previous steps. But it doesn’t make sense to define your key activities if you don’t know who your target customers are, what problems they have that you are solving, how the product or service will reach the customer, and how your company will get paid. Knowing your key resources could be an important pre-step, because obtaining those resources might be a key activity. Likewise understanding your key suppliers or partners might be necessary, because a key activity might be the ability to find and create business relationships with these key suppliers or partners. If you’re building a consulting company, major key activities will probably be problem solving and recruiting experienced consultants. If you’re starting a company to make costume jewelry, your key activities will include jewelry design, supply chain management, manufacturing, and channel management.

After you decide on your list of key activities, the next important question is, how will the company perform these key activities in an excellent way that differentiates us from existing competitors? Will the company need to recruit people with industry experience and relationships? Buy specific kinds of software or equipment? Create a high-powered web site? The team needs to leave the building and confirm that the people, software and/or hardware can be obtained in the needed time frame. If you can’t figure out how to perform these key activities well, this is another time to “pivot”, go back and re-examine the decisions you made in previous steps.

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