Eric Ries' book The Lean Startup. At first glance on the bookshelves, I didn't think the book was relevant to me because, after all, LiveBinders is the leanest start-up on the face of the planet. I didn't think Mr. Ries could teach me anything about running with the absolute minimum capital. But it turns out the title of the book is quite misleading. The book isn't about running a capital-constrained start-up (though the preservation of capital is a happy result of his methodology.)
His book is all about finding out if your product will fly in the market before you spend enormous resources to bring the product to market. This is rather a simple concept that I wrote about well over ten years ago in my article: When to Release a Software Product.
But Eric takes this concept to the next level by creating a process that effectively tests ideas and assumptions long before the product is out in the market. He also provides metrics that founders and investors can use to measure their real progress in the market.
The book has made an impression on me. I'm a metrics driving person who loves statistics. But he adeptly made me dig deeper by labeling my fabulous growth stats (users, page views, visitors, etc.) as "vanity metrics".
He spends a lot of time showing you how to engage your customers early with the product. At LiveBinders we have always loved engaging our customers in discussions on product ideas. But this book has made me look at closer at the statistics and helped me create a deeper understanding of what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.
Eric, if you are listening, thank you! You have me digging deep into our real metrics to understand exactly how we are doing in the market.
If you haven't picked up this book yet, it is time. If can't convince you to pick up this book, maybe you can get religion through this video: