Book Review: The Four Steps to the Epiphany

kaplandj • August 4, 2007

Software Business

The Four Steps to the EpiphanySuccessful Strategies for Products that Win by Steven Gary Blank __is an excellent read.  If you think you know it all or are young and cocky – don’t read this book.  If you have some experience trying to be an entrepreneur and something was always “really way off” in your approach, then this book might be worth your while. Some of my recent former business partners who claimed to know their market and customers (!#*!!#$!!**!) – should read this book. Build it and they will come? “Ain’t” working dudes.  

Blank is an experience VC, teacher, and Customer Centric guru. He rails against a product development approach – “the path to disaster”. I’ve performed a few of these disasters on my own so I tend to agree with him. Blank instead details an approach to business development that has the company first discovering who its’ customers really are. He calls this the Customer Development Model. He models a flow of Customer Discovery, Customer Validation, Customer Creation, and Company Building.

This is a very detailed book. The appendix has a good review of all the steps. I must say it (the system) is complicated. And probably needs a re-read.  He asks many many questions in the book. The system helps preserve capital and cut burn rate down by not hiring large marketing and sales organizations too early. And finding and validating that customer is key. The process might take you in a different direction. Or you might go right back to the beginning of the process – customer discovery.

Selecting the correct market type is stressed. New, existing, re-segmented? Blank really focuses on this point. Each is handled very differently in the book. New markets will take longer. So be prepared he says. All in all I give this a thumbs up. I’ll try to put some of this in play.