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The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  13,327 ratings  ·  181 reviews
The bestselling classic that launched 10,000 startups and new corporate ventures - The Four Steps to the Epiphany is one of the most influential and practical business books of all time. The Four Steps to the Epiphany launched the Lean Startup approach to new ventures. It was the first book to offer that startups are not smaller versions of large companies and that new ...more
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published July 17th 2013 by K & S Ranch (first published 2003)
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Steve Saunders Read this one first. You will get the whole story. Also, read Business Model Canvas that takes these ideas to a practical level.…moreRead this one first. You will get the whole story. Also, read Business Model Canvas that takes these ideas to a practical level. (less)
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Herve
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I had mentioned him in previous posts such as The Art of Selling and his Views on Entrepreneurship, I had never read Steve Blank’s until now. I just finished reading The Four Steps to the Epiphany and I must just say it is a great book.

I will explain into some details his theory but the main reason I love this book is how he explains why founders are critical in all the decisions of the early phases of a start-up. Not the usual “hire business people”, but “learn and become an expert
...more
Brian
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(4.0) Good stuff, helpful resource, especially for enterprise software

* "Customer Development" should be the focus, rather than blind execution of product development
** You've got a product vision, so find your potential customers and cultivate them, learn from them
** Validate your vision, refine as appropriate
** Don't ramp up sales/marketing efforts till you have a repeatable, proven process for selling (and be sure it's repeatable for the mainstream market, not early adopters
* Know whether
...more
Eric Smith
I am torn between giving this book five stars and giving it two - it's an incredibly useful book to me personally and I wish I'd read it years ago, but at the same time it is turgidly written, complex, encrusted with typos and amateurish editing, and it is applicable to a narrow audience. However! If you are a member of that audience - entrepreneurs starting up a technology-based firm, especially one doing business-to-business - then it is incredibly useful, provided you can get through it and ...more
Jan Spörer
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was simply excellent! It helps to realistically identify the step that the startup is currently in and to take appropriate action.

Here are my key take-aways:

Customer Discovery

-A startup's goal is to understand customers and how they buy, and to build a repeatable financial model for these circumstances. (p. 10)
-"Premature selling is the immediate cause of the Death Spiral." (p. 14)
-When customers do not respond as expected, further execution on the same plan will lead to failure. (p.
...more
Sahar Hawamdeh
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book! I recommend it to everyone starting a new business or working on getting their product out in the market. It proposes a customer-centered rather than a product-centered approach, one I truly believe is the X factor in a start-up success.
Jeff
Oct 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-book-list
A must-read if you're going to start an organization or business.

Some takeaways:

* In the early stages of start-up, focusing on 'execution' will put you out of business. Instead, you need a 'learning and discovery' process so you can get the company to the point where you know what to execute.

* Before you can build and sell a a product, you have to answer some very basic questions: 1. What are the problems our product solves? 2. Do customers perceive these problems as important? 3. How many
...more
Marwan
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
provides fresh approach on how to find your customer through the customer development process. it is a good read with the lean startup.
Nguyên ngộ ngộ
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 7questions
should be read with the lean starup at the same time.
Atif Shaikh
The core gist of the Customer Development process parallel to a typical product development process is the core message and is very well articulated. Perhaps an article expanded into a book with a few skirmishes from the era long gone when customer validation happened primarily with ethnographical evidence only which today is not complete without considering the changing market conditions brought by cloud, BYOD, subscriptions and product->company versus company->product mindset.

The lean
...more
Martin Georgiev
Despite being one of the first books on the topic of "lean" startup methodologies, it is obvious why it didn't catch on. The author gives complicated and tedious explanations of simple ideas. There is too much made up terminology and an overall textbook feel to it. The focus is completely on B2B companies which is fine as long as it was conveyed properly but that was not the case. Despite these shortcomings, the underlying ideas of the book are timeless.
Dan W
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exceptional book that deserves its own category. Rough in spots as it's from the author's keystrokes to your page. You can quite literally take this book in hand and use it as a field manual on growing your business. Mr. Blank rightly points out within the starting pages that most business have failed before they even started, illustrates clearly why no amount of time or money will fix them, and what the more successful approach is and how to use it.

Charts, graphs, and words with definitions
...more
Harish
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: product-design
This is the best book I've read about starting a company, full of key insights about how startups differ from established organizations-- and the practical implications of how to run your business based on this core difference. An in-depth manual/how-to-guide/workbook all in one, the concepts in here are ridiculously valuable and will assist anyone interested in bringing a product to market and achieving the mythical "product-market fit". This is the first book I recommend to people in ...more
Priya Rainelle
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing text(book) for anyone building a business that they want to grow into a profitable company - small or large. While geared toward tech start ups, the strategies Blank discusses are cross cutting and could be applicable to a multitude of industries. As a bonus, the appendices include recommendations for follow on reads and sample documents that can be modified for your own use.
Lori Grant
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A should-read book on creating and building new products for knowledge workers and entrepreneurs.
Sarah Uhlfelder
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the startup, product launch, business planning BIBLE!
Igor Artamonov
Step by step guide to running your company/startup, with a lot of details about every moment
Vlad Calus
Good one for people starting their own company. Focuses on the most basic things to do before even really start.

In my opinion, one of the basic books to read about entrepreneurship.
Boni Aditya
This is definitely one of the best books about Customer Development. The need to build customers similar to how you would build your Product.

For product development we have a very strict framework, from ideation to prototyping to Mockups to development, testing and finally to release and feedback. We have a myriad other approaches to develop products.

Unfortunately not so many approaches and frameworks are built for generating customers, and to build companies from scratch. Most of the
...more
Curiosbag
For sure, this book is a foundation of Eric Ries's Lean Startup, but do not let the "trend" fool you. First off, this business theory manual is for B2B. If you're creating something to sell for the company, this is a must-read. But if you're creating something for B2C and B2Any, you're not the audience for this book.

Pro
-This book provides a step-by-step guide on how to capture your great idea into the paper and test your idea.
-The principle of The Customer Development Model provided here is a
...more
Yevgeniy Brikman
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book to learn how to develop, market, and sell products as a startup. Makes a very convincing case for why the product development, marketing, and sales practices used in a big, established company will not work in a new venture trying to grab a foothold. Reasonably clear guide on the proper way to do it in such an uncertain environment, including lots of great questions to ask yourself (as a startup employee) and your customers.

Downsides to the book are that parts of it feel a little
...more
Yogesh Baher
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book and the Lean Startup are kind of twin brothers, they talk about the same fundamentals of Start-up success, but with different approaches. The best part is -These two books kind of pull together a framework of best practices almost universally applicable for start-ups and growing firms.

A must read for all aspiring product managers (like me :))

My basic takeaways from this book:
1. Start a customer search along with developing a product. run Customer dev and product dev in parallel.
2.
...more
Petr Bela
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: startup
The book that has reached the "recommended reading" status at many entrepreneurship courses and coined the term "customer validation" needs no introduction. Written by a Silicon Valley icon, serial entrepreneur and business professor at Berkeley and Stanford, it advocates that the secret formula to building companies, and new products in general, is finding who your customer is and what products do they actually need. It's written as a methodical textbook, with chapters dedicated to individual ...more
Bruno
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the ordinary “hey here are some examples of startups so you should do the same”. Some might even say it is a bit boring with its meticulous explanation of its methodology, with only minor anecdotes mentioned.

That is exactly why this is a good book. It doesn’t consider creating a startup something you can “wing” but something you can plan. That doesn’t guarantee success and there will still be hectic days and nights, but this methodology gives you a chance to survive and try for
...more
Kobie
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-time-besties
I've been re-reading and re-re-reading parts of this book throughout the year and I'm sure I'll return to it in 2020 too. I should probably also check out Startup Owner's Manual.

Despite being written like a HOWTO, not everything is this book will be applicable to your startup and shouldn't be followed verbatim. However it's guaranteed to highlight some areas you have not considered at all, well enough, or areas that you should revisit. 10/10 will always have a copy close at hand for referral.
Andriy Bas
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
A bit outdated, but still interesting and relevant for entrepreneurs and Product Managers how to discover the customer problem, create a solution for it, test if it works, and built the company.

A bit complex, but useful and interesting book. No wonder it didn't become popular, it's too hard to grasp at once.

If you're digging deeper into the Customer Development, it's worth reading to get an idea how it all got started. Was surprised at some examples of how companies operated in the early 2000s.
Giorgio Giuliani
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book about startups, it probably is the foundation of the Lean Startup movement.
It actually is an handbook that explains step by step what to do to successfully start and scale a company.

Extremely suggested the first 2 steps, Customer discovery and Customer validation. Here Steve B. explains in details how to maximize the probability to reach PMFit - the essence of the startup theory.

The rest of the book is interesting but quite theoretical.
Fons De Mey
I was a bit in the middle about giving it a 2-star or a 3-star rating: 3-star, because I like the content; 2-star, because it is a tedious read with a lot of repetition.

All in all, this book seems a good guide I will certainly come back too in my start-up activities. Especially the overview at the end of the e-book version I read will be revisited, as well as the reading list with pointers to the books Steve Blank likes.
Daohu
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know how the customers is important, and sometimes I loss the patient to the customers.The book told us how to build a relationship between the customers and engineers.Also it tell us how to build a company in different stages.
We see that many problems have already existed in real companies, and maybe the book help us to deal with them.
Tim-Frederik
Provides instructions on how to go about 1. customers, 2. sales, 3. marketing and 4. building your company at different stages of your business. It can be dry at times though... The key message is great though --> The classic Product development process doesn't work for start-ups --> Startups must focus on "Customer Development" first and find their right customers...
Ferhat Culfaz
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great manual for stating and running a start up business. Great rules of thumb and details on how companies should be run and structured. What differentiates this book from others is the focus on customer development and validation. Too many focus on product development and rush to market into the wrong market type. All explained in clear and simple prose.
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227 followers
Put to a vote, I might have been chosen “least likely to succeed” in my New York City high school class. My path has taken me from repairing fighter planes in Thailand during the Vietnam War, to spook stuff in undisclosed location(s), and I was lucky enough to arrive at the beginning of the boom times of Silicon Valley in 1978.
After 21 years in 8 high technology companies, I retired in 1999. I
...more
“My advice was to start a policy of making reversible decisions before anyone left the meeting or the office. In a startup, it doesn’t matter if you’re 100 percent right 100 percent of the time. What matters is having forward momentum and a tight fact-based data/metrics feedback loop to help you quickly recognize and reverse any incorrect decisions. That’s why startups are agile. By the time a big company gets the committee to organize the subcommittee to pick a meeting date, your startup could have made 20 decisions, reversed five of them and implemented the fifteen that worked.” 22 likes
“In the early stages of a startup, focusing on “execution” will put you out of business. Instead, you need a “learning and discovery” process so you can get the company to the point where you know what to execute.” 5 likes
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