When Crown Business published Ries’ first book, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business, it became a bestseller and a blueprint for entrepreneurs around the world. Ries is also a leading Silicon Valley and business blogger. He hosts sold-out conferences and advises the Lean Startup Machine workshop series, which is now in more than 20 cities.
As the keynote speaker for the IBM SmartCamp Finals recently, Ries imparted many truths to entrepreneurs.
Ries opened with the idea that our environment has allowed for the democratization of entrepreneurship, and the next big company can begin in anyone’s garage. Such a landscape has allowed the startup movement to explode with millions in funding, hundreds of accelerators and incubators and a general excitement among those who feel ill-suited for a typical 9-to-5 job.
Perhaps Ries’ most important message was that the same democratization of entrepreneurship has been tied to a glorification of the profession. His description of the films “The Social Network” (as a modern image) and “Ghostbusters” (as an “old school” image) illustrated entrepreneurs building from the ground up.
He described the Hollywood recipe. Act 1: a protagonist with a bold idea and excellent timing for the idea. Act 2: a brief montage focusing on the struggles on writing code or battling some ghosts. Act 3: a tidy conclusion featuring earning tons of money or saving lots of people.
But Ries, an expert on startups, revealed the uncut version—the vast majority of a startup experience lies in Act 2. He then asked why it doesn’t make it into the movie. His answer? It’s too boring. He admitted no one would want to watch a seven-hour fight with his cofounders.
For every successful Netflix, Google or Uber, there are hundreds of failed startups that don’t make it past Act 2. True successes lie in overcoming problems, learning quickly from those problems and implementing solutions—all before your competitors do.
While many dream of the quick five-year turnaround of successful business plans, Ries said it rarely works out as smoothly and easily as we hope. His message was not meant to dissuade young innovators and entrepreneurs but to better prepare them and ultimately make their struggles more surmountable.
For more information, see firstname.lastname@example.org and startuplessonslearned.com. Stay tuned to IBM for more exciting events and information.
Featured image courtesy of betsyweber via Flickr.