The tools and techniques of Entrepreneurship: A distillation

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
4 min read

Say You Want a Revolution

The front-end activities of starting a business enterprise have gone through a radical rethinking in the past decade. In the previous century the thinking was to apply the tools and techniques of business administration in a scaled down version.

Lean Startup has developed a process that incorporates the scientific method in searching for a business model that matches customer needs with novel products and services.

The scientific method has been so successful in creating progress and innovation, discovery and invention because it tests assumptions and guesses against reality and refines the guesses in the face of evidence.

It is evidence based learning and revising and it works really, really well.

A startup is not a mini-me version of an established company. A startup is a temporary organization searching for a sustainable business model. A startup’s goal is to evolve itself out of existence and become a company, like a caterpillar to a butterfly.

This is a revolutionary conception of what it means to start an enterprise and what kind of mindset the entrepreneur needs to achieve success.

We usually think of innovation as technology driven: bigger, faster, cheaper, smaller etc. The Lean Startup Methodology is a radical innovation but it’s an innovation in techniques and methods. It represents a paradigm shift in thinking. It is very powerful and has rapidly been adopted through Silicon Valley culture, government, military, and academia, both throughout the US and internationally. There are hundreds of accelerator programs based on Lean Startup all over the world.


Everyone wants to replicate the incredible success of Silicon Valley as an engine of wealth generation, innovation, and economic development. Lean Startup is at the core of all those initiatives.

Meat and Potatoes

There are three core concepts of Lean Startup:

Business Model Development

This part uses the Business Model Canvas and its nine aspects to organize the details any business idea into a readily graspable conception that can be analyzed and tested.

In order to find a sustainable business model you need to achieve Product/Market Fit. This means that your product or service’s value proposition and feature set needs to address customer needs, wants, or desires. This brings us to the next two concepts: developing your product through interaction with potential customers.

Customer Development

We an paraphrase von Moltke’s hard won insight into:

no business plan survives initial contact with customers.

This is the process were you talk to humans, gather data and information, analyze it and revise your value proposition relative to the feedback and evidence.

Agile Development

This is about developing products and services in an iterative way by starting with the basic feature set in a minimal viable product MVP and presenting that to customers and being prepared to continually go back to the drawing board until you hit upon the features that really meet a significant customer need or desire.

Tools of the Trade

The tools and techniques include:

Business Model Canvas

Minimal Viable Product

Customer Discovery and Validation

Iterate, Pivot, or Persevere

This is where you course correct based on the feedback you receive from potential customers. This is the process.

These concepts work for any commercial venture not just high tech venture backed startups. A plumber, a nail salon, a barbershop, any business will benefit from this type of analysis, assessment, and action plan to reduce risk and increase the chances of success.

Everyone can benefit from learning to employ these tools, techniques and methodology in formulating and executing on any practical idea or business conception. This is a great approach to adding rigor to anything you want to get out of your head and from ideation into the world where it can make an impact.

Share this post
John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

Receive my 7 day email course

Take your finance skills to the next level with my 7-day corporate finance email course. You'll learn all the essential topics from financial analysis to risk management in a fun, engaging format. Each day, you'll receive an email with practical examples, exercises and resources. Perfect for aspiring finance pros or anyone looking to expand their knowledge. Get ready to transform your finance game!

By clicking Sign Up you're confirming that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

If you like this article. Here are some more articles I think you might like.


The Road to Becoming a Unicorn: A Quick Guide to Startup Funding Rounds

The whole process of funding and developing startups has become more widespread because the cost of getting a product to market has dropped so precipitously in the past couple of decades from millions of dollars to typically anywhere from under $20,000 to $500,000.
John Cousins
December 18, 2023
7 min read

Oh Behave! Behavioral Economics: Why we do what we do.

Behavioral Economics is a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behavior to explain economic decision making.
John Cousins
December 18, 2023
4 min read
Personal Growth

Professional Development: 3 Types of Skill Sets

To perform effectively in a job and advance to greater responsibilities requires developing a well rounded set of skills. Every job and every industry has its specifics but these skill sets are general and apply across all jobs. Skills are fundamental for turning a job into a career trajectory and this trajectory is part of our personal fulfillment in life.
John Cousins
December 18, 2023
5 min read