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Testing Business Ideas

A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation

By David J. Bland, Alexander Osterwalder
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Testing Business Ideas by David J. Bland, Alexander Osterwalder

Testing Business Ideas (2021) explores how entrepreneurs can use experimentation to give their new venture the best chance of success. It outlines the rationale behind testing, and describes a framework for deciding how to proceed. 

Key idea 1 of 8

The best teams are diverse, open-minded, and entrepreneurial.

If you’re going to test your business ideas, you’ll need a great team in place. But what kind of people do you need to hire for your winning team? What sort of skills do they need to bring to the table, and how can they work together to make your venture a success?

Well, it all starts with great design, and the best entrepreneurs proactively design their teams. They think carefully about bringing together people who have a cross-functional skill set that encompasses all or most of the competencies that a fledgling business needs. 

The key message here is: The best teams are diverse, open-minded, and entrepreneurial.

Some of the most important skills needed are a knack for design, product knowledge, and tech prowess. Other capabilities you might want to add are sales and marketing expertise, legal know-how, and data management. If you can’t find the right people with all of these skills, then you may be able to partner with people outside of your organization. Alternatively, you might be able to invest in technical programs that can help fill the gaps. 

As well as having a wide range of capabilities, the best teams tend to be diverse. They are filled with people from a range of backgrounds – of different genders, ethnicities, ages, and careers. Why is diversity so important? Because a successful business has an impact on people’s lives and on society as a whole – and society is made up of people from all walks of life. If business teams don’t reflect this reality, then their decision-making – and their testing – will contain inherent biases. 

The best teams also engage in three specific behaviors that continually help to improve their performance. 

First, great teams accept that they won’t always get things right. They’re unafraid to run experiments to test their assumptions – and they’re honest with themselves when the results show their assumptions are wrong.

Second, winning teams are highly customer-centric. They know exactly why their business is helpful to their customers’ lives, and they have a genuine connection to the people who use their products. What’s more, they stay in touch with their old customers as well as their newest ones. 

Finally, whatever line of business they’re aiming for, the best teams have an entrepreneurial spirit. They work fast, and they can solve problems creatively and validate new ideas on the fly. Entrepreneurial teams move so quickly because they have a feeling of urgency and momentum; things need to happen today rather than tomorrow. 

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