TEL 246: The Four Steps to the Epiphany with Steve Blank
A summary of things you should know about The Four Steps to the Epiphany according to Steve Blank
I am an eight time serial entrepreneur. I’ve done eight different start ups in a series of ever increasing roles and after I retired I became an educator and started teaching at Berkley in the business school, Stanford in the engineering school, and now at Columbia and NYU as well. From there, I wrote a series of books about entrepreneurship.
The Book’s Unique Quality (5:38)
It was the first of its kind and people have said it’s a foundational entrepreneurial book to read before the others. But I think this book helps you get grounded, meaning it allows you to process everything else you read, helping you understand where these ideas are coming from and how are they derived and which ones are important.
The Best Way To Engage (7:56)
The first three chapters are definitely worth reading at first in one bite because they talk about what has become the lean startup and how to manage this advice. And then it talks about the first two steps, which are customer discovery and customer validation. Customer discovery is how to take your brilliant idea of your company and break it down into very simple pieces that are hypotheses. Customer validation is then going and testing these hypotheses. So this is just a fancy term for let’s get some orders from customers way before we ever ship a product.
The other chapters in the book are about what happens after you actually find what’s called, product-market, fit. They discuss customer creation and also company building, so what to do when you actually are successful.
The Reader’s Takeaway (14:14)
There are no facts inside your building so get the hell outside. Founders are driven by a passion that they want to share with others, the problem is the passion convinces you so deeply that you’re right, that a startup becomes a faith based enterprise.
A Deep Dive Into The Book (12:03)
The other thing about the book is that there is a whole set of checklists and worksheets in the back of the book that help you figure out what to do step-by-step. And the book is a good preamble for reading my next book, The Startup Owner’s Manual, which truly is a step by step guide. This book has The Four Steps to the Epiphany with a lot more philosophy on why to do it. But I think The Four Steps is the first book I would hand a first-time or even second- or third-time entrepreneur who is looking for guidance. One of the biggest problems with entrepreneurship today is the cost of entry is so low that most people believe that if they just go out and build it and follow my passion then users and money will follow. It turns out that unless you’re randomly lucky then that’s almost never the case, it really does require preparation and some legwork to make that happen.
NOTE: That was just a summary. To get the full deep dive, play the audio clip at 12:03
Notable Quotes From The Book (18:16)
“There are no facts inside the building so get the hell outside” -Steve Blank
“Startups search, large companies execute” -Steve Blank
The Credibility/Inspiration Of The Author (1:46)
The inspiration around Four Steps is when I retired I felt that the world really needed my memoir and so I started writing lessons learned from each of the start ups I had been in. When I got about 80 pages into the memoir I realized two things: one is I would have to pay my kids to read it, let alone anyone else, and two is that there was a pattern emerging from the book and my career that I never knew existed. Then I realized what happened to me was happening to everyone else and that was that all the common wisdom of how to start a business that was given to us by our investors was simply wrong. The advice they had given us was that start ups are nothing more than smaller versions of big companies so everything these large companies do are things we should do. When really startups are searching for a business model rather than executing one like a larger company.
Other Books Recommended By The Author (19:16)
Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder