The Four Steps to the Epiphany

After reading this book twice, I’ve decided to only recommend it to people are currently and actively starting a business.  It’s way too in depth and checklist style for someone like me taking a couple years away from full time business.

That being said, it’s great for someone in the processing of starting a business or already actively running their own business, specifically start up style businesses with goals of raising VC funding, appointing a Board of Directors, hiring 50+ employees, etc.

I would suggest reading this book very slowly and taking notes if you’re in business.  When he gives examples, parallel it to your business and try to gain insights from the way he picks apart every part of a business’ structure.

Here are some of the main subjects the author really dissects:

  1. Customer Development process
  2. Customer Validation
  3. Marketing, Adv., PR
  4. Internal company communication
  5. Appointing a Board of Directors, and utilizing them well
  6. Competition
  7. Fast response departments
  8. Mission Statements
  9. Mission-centric Management

Great points to consider:

  1. A legendary hero is usually the founder of something—the founder of a new age, the founder of a new religion, the founder of a new city, the founder of a new way of life. In order to found something new, one has to leave the old and go on a quest of the seed idea, a germinal idea that will have the potential of bringing forth that new thing. — Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces.
  2. It’s human nature that what you think you know is not always what you know. A little humility goes far. Your past experience may not be relevant for your new company.
  3. Most entrepreneurs travel down the startup path without a roadmap and believe that no model or template could apply to their new venture. They are wrong. For the path of a startup is well worn, and well understood. The secret is that no one has written it down.
  4. At times startups confuse evangelists with customers who will give a reference. They are not the same. A customer reference is something you have to arm twist to get; an evangelist is someone you can’t get off the phone. By launch time, early evangelists need to be happy enough with your company and product to stand up and happily tell others about it.
  5. Premature scaling is the immediate cause of the Death Spiral.
  6. The Technology Life Cycle Adoption Curve, popularized and refined with the notion of the “chasm” by Geoff Moore. Instead of dreaming up ways to cross the chasm, the first step for a startup is to focus on learning and discovery processes, from starting the company to scaling the business. Through trial and error, hiring and firing, startups that succeed have invented a parallel process to Product Development that is customer-and market-centric, I call “Customer Development.”
  7. Ensure key potential customers are on the “Customer Advisory Board.” These are people you met in Customer Discovery who can advise you about the product from the customer’s perspective. I always tell these advisors, “I want you on my advisory board so I can learn how to build a product you will buy. We both fail if I can’t.”
  8. If you are creating a new market, company positioning cannot be about how different your company is, since by definition in a new market there are no other companies to compare it to. Therefore, in a new market company positioning is about communicating a vision and passion of what could be. It answers the questions, “What is wrong with the world that you want to make right? What is it that your company is trying to change?”
  9. At the heart of the mission-centric organization is the corporate mission statement. Most startups put together a mission statement because the executive staff remembered seeing one at their last job, and somehow it felt important.
  10. Your goal is to become No. 1 in something important to your customer. It could be product attribute, territory, distribution chain/retailer, or customer base. Keep segmenting the market (by age, income, region, etc.) and focusing on the competitors’ weak points until you have a battle you can win.
  11. Startups whose mantra is “we have to be first to market” usually lose.
  12. Timely decisions also demand efficient meetings with the agenda and deliberations limited to the issues at hand.

Notes:

  1. Towards the end of the book the author mentions 50+ books that he suggests and references in his book.  If you want more reading similar to this, you can find many options here.
  2. There are checklists and worksheets in the back of the book that are great tools for analyzing different parts of your business.

Siting:

  1. http://keytakeaways.io/books/four-steps-epiphany/

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