Minimum Viable Projects: How to Apply Lean Startup Principles to Creative Endeavors

Why You Should Start a Minimum Viable Project

apply lean startup principles to creative endeavors
Photographer: Bench Accounting | Source: Unsplash

The Minimum Viable Project Mindset

apply lean startup principles to creative endeavors
Photographer: Andreas Klassen | Source: Unsplash
  • As Seth Godin says before every project “this might not work”… Your date, your startup, your charity, your creative venture, your attempt to raise your child. In life and business, nothing is guaranteed and anything is possible. The only way to find out is to try.
  • If you take enough risks, you’ll end up being right about something. Great creative work is risky, uncertain, and unpredictable. But you only have to be right once
  • Creative ideas that fail are detours, not dead ends. We forget that for every project that never saw the light of day or was commercially unsuccessful, we produce knowledge assets that we can use at any point in a creative journey. As Robert Greene once said to me, “No experience in your life should be considered wasted.”

5 Steps to Apply Lean Startup Principles to Creative Endeavors

apply lean startup principles to creative endeavors
Photographer: Per Lööv | Source: Unsplash

Step 1: Capture Your Ideas

No one lacks ideas, but they do lack the discipline to capture their ideas. Amazing ideas never see the light of day because people don’t write them down.

2. Validate Your Idea

  • A true experiment follows the scientific method. It starts with a clear hypothesis that makes predictions about what should happen. — Eric Reis, The Lean Startup
  • First, you need what Alberto Savoia calls a “Market Engagement Hypothesis,” which Alberto says “identifies your main belief or assumption about how the market will deal with your idea.”
  • Second, you need an XYZ hypothesis, “X% is a certain percentage of your target market. Y is a clear description of your target market. Z is how you expect the market to engage with your idea,” says Alberto.

3. Beware of False Positives

“Creative people, naturally produce false positives. Ideas that they think are good but aren’t. Ideas that other people have ready had. Mediocre ideas that contain buried within them the seeds of much better ideas” says Ryan Holiday.

4. Iterate/Abandon

“The value hypothesis tests whether a product or service really delivers value to customers once it’s used,” says Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup. A Minimum Viable Project allows you to test whether a product truly delivers value to consumers at low risk and low cost. This doesn’t just apply to tech startups.

  • He performs at open mic nights to test his material.
  • If some of his material flops, he may revise it or abandon it altogether.
  • By the time he’s on stage for a national comedy tour, he knows the material is funny.

5. Raise the Stakes and Execute

Nobody gives a shit what you’re going to start. The only thing that matters is what you finish. Think of all the people who announce they’re writing a book, starting a business, or launching a podcast. To protect the identity of these people, I’ve obscured their names and faces.

Examples of How to Apply Lean Startup Principles to Creative Endeavors

Photographer: Green Chameleon | Source: Unsplash

The Instigator Inexperience

Photographer: Alvaro Reyes | Source: Unsplash

The Market Engagement Hypothesis

To plan the Instigator Experience, I created a landing page in June 2013 with the following text:

XYZ Hypothesis

Over the next 6 months, I shared this site with people at other conferences, mentioned it in our newsletter, and talked about it on the podcast.

  • When speakers confirmed, I didn’t publish their names. I added a silhouette and description of them. The puzzle was a way to use gaps in knowledge to create curiosity and generate interest
  • Our XYZ hypothesis was that 60 people (x) on our email list (y) would spend $1300 for a ticket to our event (z).

Turning $5.00 a day into a 7-figure business

Photographer: Carlos Muza | Source: Unsplash

The Market Engagement Hypothesis

Gareth’s market engagement hypothesis was that people wanted to automate repetitive tasks and design workflows for people to stay in their zone of genius.

XYZ hypothesis

Gareth’s XYZ hypothesis was that X percent of people who watched his videos (y) would sign up for an initial consultation (z).

The Minimum Viable Podcast

Photographer: Amr Taha™ | Source: Unsplash

Finish Your Project in 15 Minutes a Day

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