Review of The Four Steps to The Epiphany by Steve Blank

Review of The Four Steps to The Epiphany by Steve Blank

Steve Blank is a serial entrepreneur who has participated in many different projects, both as a promoter of them and as an advisor in many other aspects.

As a result of this extensive experience, he gradually glimpsed a series of common characteristics in successful projects.

Finally, he decided to teach his startup development theory called Customer Development, and thanks to the great reception of this methodology and the contribution of his students, he shaped the book that describes in detail the conditions, processes, guidelines, and indications necessary to achieve success with a new company through Customer Development, which is a customer-oriented development.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany

The Four Steps to the Epiphany is the book where all the experience and knowledge of Steve Blank is condensed and constitutes a precursor methodology of Lean Startup, another of the tremendous current methods.

The book focuses its focus on the development of the company and projects oriented to the client, basing its logic on the great uncertainty that entrepreneurs from very different sectors have to deal with.

We are going, to be frank, and dare to say that it is not a book made for everyone, although it is a book that all entrepreneurs or future entrepreneurs should read, probably after reading Business Model Generation, since it offers a series of knowledge so elaborate that invaluable lessons can be drawn even if the methodology is not finally applied.

It is a hard book to read, dense, with a lot of information, and with constant breaks concerning traditional thinking such as the typical product-oriented development that we have followed for so long.

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Beyond the set that the Customer Development methodology implies, the book develops certain topics of great interest such as the adoption curve of the technology life cycle (early adopters, the chasm, mas market…), learning based on dual hypotheses about the problem, and solution, or the 4 different markets that a startup can address.

As these are topics that we have already addressed in Emprenderalia, Customer Development, or that we will address later, we are not going to address them in this review, but we highlight them for their valuable content within the book.

Customer Development

The 4 steps to the epiphany: Customer Development

The Customer Development methodology is based on 4 basic steps on which you can iterate as many times as necessary before moving on to the next one, very much in the line of pivoting or persevering that the Lean Startup methodology defends.

The first step is called Customer Discovery and it involves testing a series of hypotheses before starting to develop anything. What we are looking for is to know if we have found a problem that a certain number of people/organizations need to solve and if the solution we propose is a valid solution for them. This phase focuses mainly on the problem-solution pairing, making many contacts with possible clients ( early adopters ) to always learn from them regarding our hypotheses. In this step, you can use the philosophy of MVP, Minimum Viable Product, alternatively to questionnaire systems.

The second step is called Customer Validation and it focuses on creating a sales roadmap that is repeatable and focused on early adopters, who will forgive us for the shortcomings of an unfinished or not even started product, to make sure that we can sell our product as a solution to their problem. If we succeed in these first 2 steps, we can ensure that we have a valid business model.

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The third step is called Customer Creation and it is a phase closer to what we are used to since it tries to generate demand for our product to feed our sales channels. In this phase, we must finish defining the market that we are addressing, since the actions to be carried out will be very different. We leap into the mass market, so the extensive marketing and sales expenses begin.

The fourth and last step is Company Building, which consists of consolidating our business structure, changing the typical chaos of startups for a structure in departments that are no longer oriented toward the client but towards their mission.

As we can see, the company grows progressively as real needs increase, so we avoid burning money in the early stages of the project when we still don’t know if there will be a market for our product or if we are solving a problem that is worth solving.

In conclusion, a very powerful book, full of fundamental knowledge for entrepreneurs and we recommend Emprenderalia. A must-have that is said.

You can buy the book in English at the following link: The Four Steps to the Epiphany. If you prefer to read it in Spanish, this is the version: Entrepreneur’s Manual 

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