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The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company (DIATEINO)

Steve Blank, Bob Dorf · 2 HN points · 15 HN comments
HN Books has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention "The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company (DIATEINO)" by Steve Blank, Bob Dorf.
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Amazon Summary
More than 100,000 entrepreneurs rely on this book for detailed, step-by-step instructions on building successful, scalable, profitable startups.  The National Science Foundation pays hundreds of startup teams each year to follow the process outlined in the book, and it's taught at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia and more than 100 other leading universities worldwide.  Why? The Startup Owner's Manual guides you, step-by-step, as you put the Customer Development process to work. This method was created by renowned Silicon Valley startup expert Steve Blank, acknowledged catalyst of the "Lean Startup" movement, and tested and refined by him for more than a decade. This 608-page how-to guide includes over 100 charts, graphs, and diagrams, plus 77 valuable checklists that guide you as you drive your company toward profitability.  It will help you: · Avoid the 9 deadly sins that destroy startups' chances for success · Use the Customer Development method to bring your business idea to life · Incorporate the Business Model Canvas as the organizing principle for startup hypotheses · Identify your customers and determine how to "get, keep and grow" customers profitably · Compute how you'll drive your startup to repeatable, scalable profits.
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this book.
IMO the theory is what gives you the confidence. You know it works, that the actions taken are repeatable.

The basics of how to start a startup:

Growth. Or figuring out when your startup is doing well or poorly, runway, why it takes so long:

I think when people criticize a startup's profitability, they don't really understand that the goal of a startup is to grow assets, not earn money, and then then sell those assets to someone who can make more money from it.

A very different book to the usual, Startup Owner's Manual:

It's a good book on validating what works and how ambitious to be. Much of it is in the form of checklists, which help you decide the next step. It's not a boring book, though. I haven't read through the whole thing as we got off the ground before finishing the book. It's the book that got my ex-co-founder away from more traditional businesses and into startups.

This is a good, quick highlight on how to do it:

If you want a full book, I recommend The Startup Owner's Manual:

The latter is actually a step by step process, and it's worked very well for me. It answers what you should do before getting funding. Once you've built something people want, apply to Y Combinator (or some other good accelerator) and they'll show you the next steps on how to build a team, raise funds, expand, and so on.

Thank you. This is exactly the sort of information I'm looking for right now. Trying to educate myself about how the process works from a big picture perspective.
I highly recommend reading about the business model canvas (definitely get this book [1]) and the "double diamond" framework [2] in design thinking. I'd also recommending reading some Steve Blank [3] for the "mainstream" understanding of "startup business".

The Lean Startup [4] is often recommended, but I've been told it's extremely beginner-level (though I haven't read it, so my analysis might be unfair)

If you want to get really in-depth, there's a lot of really great interplay between the design discipline and entrepreneurship that is often overlooked. "Design Thinking" is much more than a buzzword, check it out.





Blank provides a nice framework for thinking through a business idea but there are companies still selling software for dialup modems and your grocery store (in-spite of terrible fundamentals) is still in business.
Oh definitely! My thoughts are mostly aimed at your "stereptypical" SV-style venture.

Small business is an entirely different, and almost completely distinct, field (that I have little-to-no expertise in).

I don't think there's one simple, straight-forward, cookie-cutter answer to this. There are a lot of different ways you could approach this, depending on ... stuff.

But to start... I would say you should begin not by thinking in terms of identifying a problem, but by thinking in terms of identifying a candidate problem. That is, some hypothesis that you can then turn around and try to validate. (I won't get all Popperian here and point out that you can really only invalidate hypotheses, but instead will just lean on our intuitive notion of what it means to validate a hypotheses).

Once you have a candidate hypotheses (or two, or three, whatever) there is a somewhat straight-forward process for how to validate it and (potentially) turn it into a business. That process is laid out and explained in The Four Steps to the Epiphany and The Startup Owner's Manual.

Anyway, back to our "candidate hypotheses". The most obvious way to generate one is from personal experience. Eg, if you have worked as, say, a surgeon, you will probably already know a lot about what problems surgeons face.

OTOH, if you think you want to sell to a certain domain, but you don't have actual experience in that domain, you could make it a point to cultivate personal relationships with people who are in that domain, as well as doing a deep-drive into "the literature" of that domain, taking classes, watching videos, etc. But at the end of the day, if you're going to try to build a business selling something to, say, fire departments, you're probably better off having been a firefighter.

It might be a tough nut to crack, and the logistics might be tricky, but you may be able to find a way to embed yourself in the domain you're interested in. Volunteering, or just asking to "shadow" somebody for a period of time (this is where those pre-existing personal relationships come into play).

Another angle is "problems that are so general that they always exist." There's a famous phrase, the exact words of which I forget, which summarizes this nicely... it's something like "people will always want to pay less for things, have more free time, be healthier, have more sex, etc." So if you can come up with something that addresses any of these highly general topics, you might have a good candidate. Alan Kay, in one of his videos[3][4] talks about referencing Donald Brown's book Human Universals[5] as a source for thoughts on these "universal" themes. There's a LOT of good stuff in those two videos, so if you haven't seen them yet, I'd highly advice watching them.

Another thought is to find places where people like to complain, and listen to their complaints. Find any forums, sub-reddits, or sites named something like "XYZSucks" and pay attention to what people are complaining about. Maybe you can build the replacement for XYZ that doesn't suck, or at least a complement / accessory for XYZ that mitigates some specific instance of suckage.

I'm sure there are a hundred other ways to approach this, so be creative.






I forgot to mention this earlier, but there are also forums like the "SomebodyMakeThis" sub-reddit. Basically, a place for people to talk about things they wish existed. This could probably help seed some ideas for you as well.

Thanks for the references.

Beyond that, it's hard to say without more information. Have you looked at Startup School and their library[1] of information? If not, I suggest doing that, as it's a veritable gold mine of good information.

If what you're working on is intended to be a scalable startup (as opposed to, say, a laundromat, or a one-man consulting company, etc.) then I highly recommend reading either The Four Steps to the Epiphany[2] and/or The Startup Owner's Manual[3]. The latter is nominally the 2nd Edition of the former, but I find that there's enough difference in the content to justify reading both. If you're more enterprise focused, the former is more centered on that world. If you're doing something consumer focused, the latter title is more oriented towards that (but not to exclusion).




Just for context for those who don't know who Steve Blank is, he is the author of two books that I admire the most in my journey starting up my own venture.

The story here gives the origin of one his most critical 'Epiphanies'... "Get out of the building".

"The Four Steps to the Epiphany" [1] and "The Startup Owner's Manual" [2]



Superseded by The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company, also by Steve Blank.

>Your long memory is, IMO, working against you here.

What you wrote and what I wrote I don't think conflict at all, so I don't know why you'd say it is working against me. Also I have found references to what I wrote in writing[0] so I'm not completely crazy.

Now, an anecdote that I might screw up because my memory is fuzzy about it, is that the founder of Instacart was given a copy of Webvan's business plan on a floppy as a sort of "Good luck!" token.


Sorry, my reply was to GP.
The Startup Manual - will get you started. (
yes, were looking for something like that
Jan 02, 2013 · 2 points, 0 comments · submitted by IgorP
Hi -

I think the first thing to note is that: there is no 'right way' to start a start-up, though there are probably some wrong ways and things to avoid. To that end, you probably only need to do a minimal amount of reading, and then it is very much all about doing. Only once you start the process will you begin to see specific gaps in your knowledge or a bump in the road you need to get over. This where specific reading and resources will be 10x more valuable than general roadmaps.

However, these are good resources: - Mark Suster's blog is excellent, and his indexed start-up advice is an amazing resource to being with. - this book is very much in vogue at the moment. I have it, and it makes a lot of sense, and takes you one step at a time down the most important path of all - product development - this should be one of your best friends, as it has a huge amount of start-up related advice

Hope this helps.

Thank you very much! I appreciate it - Very useful information! Would upvote x10 if I could.
Like "agile", "lean startup" can mean pretty much... anything the person using the phrase wants it to mean.

With agile, sometimes the word is used to justify a rigid excess of ceremony, or as a firewall for lazy developers to hide behind to avoid being responsive to non-engineering members of the organization, or as an unrealistic attempt to turn software development into an assembly line of a bunch of jack-of-all-trades "cross-functional" team members ("specialists? we don't need no stinkin' specialists!"). But the core observation of agile is that writing huge planning documents and spending weeks perfecting PRDs and GANTT charts at the outset of an engineering project and then using these to derive project timelines and costs is inefficient, and that "delivery to QA" 3 months over an arbitrary schedule and 70% over an arbitrary budget is a classic failure mode for this approach to planning. Instead, a focus on building self-organizing, trusted teams who are delivering working software frequently and iteratively, and gathering customer feedback and adjusting "the plan" after each delivered increment of software can result in both happier developers AND happier customers.

Similarly, "lean startup" CAN be synonymous with "changing my mind about what business I'm in and 'pivoting' every 3 weeks", but really the core observation could be summarized as "build things people want", with all these new-fangled buzzword-y tools like customer development interviews, business model canvases and even "pivoting" as a means to this end. While the Ries book is useful, Steve Blank's The Startup Owner's Manual ( is phenomenal and the ideas there certainly "transfer very well outside the world of tech start-ups."

Take what works, leave what doesn't, ignore the hype and think critically.

There's a lot of demand for a "surefire recipe for success", that may not be what Eric Ries is selling, but it's what a lot of people are buying when they purchase his books and attend his seminars.
Lean Startup fell pretty flat for me. It felt like there wasn't much "there there". Recommended alternatives:

Read it, liked it more than Lean Startup:

Started reading it, seems much more thorough than Lean Startup: - annoyingly does not have a Kindle version.

Haven't ready it, heard it's good:

And of course, my favorite of all, because it's full of real, practical advice, Start Small, Stay Small.

I gotta agree with you. Conceptually Lean Startup was ok, but there was zero content in it that I could easily grasp and apply to a company. It was all too high level. I think most of Clayton Christensen's books are the same way.

Eric Ries is in the consulting business (like Clayton) and he's trying to bring Lean Startup to the mainstream & big companies. I think his book achieves that goal but at the expense of being helpful to startups.

A friend I trust highly recommends "The startup owners manual" by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf.

Yes, this book plus Lean Startup by Eric Ries plus Rework - that's all any tech startup needs to read to become successful.
How about the successful startups that existed before those books? What books did they read?
Why would that matter?
Probably just by networking - no books.
It hasn't been released according to amazon. It gets releases this month:

I did pre-order it, even thought I only buy Kindle books now. I think it is worth, I have read the other two and I liked them, so I am assuming that this one will be worth it.

I've seen people's pictures - they're receiving them already.
I received mine Feb. 27th. I was pretty surprised that it came that quickly. I've read partially into the second chapter, seems like it is going to be good so far. They are making some bold claims in the book though.
Such as?
I'd just like to point out, if you pre-order via (using Amazon) you get charged full price, and pre-order via Amazon gets you a reduced price. I don't know if it will get updated when it ships.

I didn't notice this until I clicked aespinoza's link.

That is interesting. If you buy through amazon, I wouldn't worry too much because of the Pre-order Guarantee:

"Pre-order Price Guarantee! Order now and if the price decreases between your order time and the end of the day of the release date, you'll receive the lowest price."

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