If you’re in the business of running a business, or managing a team, then I can’t recommend The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss enough. If you know anything about Azullo, the company I co-founded, and our product Respond, then you’ll know we follow the principles Reiss has so effectively articulated in his book.
Here’s a quote from a summary page, which is well worth checking out as a starting point:
Too many startups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want. They then spend months, sometimes years, perfecting that product without ever showing the product, even in a very rudimentary form, to the prospective customer. When they fail to reach broad uptake from customers, it is often because they never spoke to prospective customers and determined whether or not the product was interesting. When customers ultimately communicate, through their indifference, that they don’t care about the idea, the startup fails.
And just for good measure, here’s another:
The Lean Startup methodology has as a premise that every startup is a grand experiment that attempts to answer a question. The question is not “Can this product be built?” Instead, the questions are “Should this product be built?” and “Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?” This experiment is more than just theoretical inquiry; it is a first product. If it is successful, it allows a manager to get started with his or her campaign: enlisting early adopters, adding employees to each further experiment or iteration, and eventually starting to build a product. By the time that product is ready to be distributed widely, it will already have established customers. It will have solved real problems and offer detailed specifications for what needs to be built.
OK, now buy the book.