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

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  15,236 ratings  ·  208 reviews
The essential book for anyone bringing a product to market, writing a business plan, marketing plan or sales plan. Step-by-step strategy of how to successfully organize sales, marketing and business development for a new product or company. The book offers insight into what makes some startups successful and leaves others selling off their furniture. Packed with concrete e ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by K & S Ranch (first published 2003)
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 ·  15,236 ratings  ·  208 reviews

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Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 unt
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
(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 you
Eric Smith
Jul 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
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 d ...more
Jan Spörer
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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. 2
Derek Pankaew
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
The best book I've read on customer discovery, i.e. how to figure out what customers want. Or more specifically, who will buy your product.

The 2nd half of the book was not very good at all. I could have stopped halfway and gotten 100% of the value I got from the book. The first half is about customer discovery. The 2nd half is about values, leading a company, scaling a team, etc.

This book is amazing at customer discovery, and not so amazing at the rest. That said, I learned a ton. Here were some
Sahar Hawamdeh
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 cu
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
Shelves: 7questions
should be read with the lean starup at the same time.
Atif Shaikh
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: wealth
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 startup
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Lucas Baraças Figueiredo
Very interesting book for entrepreneurs. Though it is a bit old already, most of what it says, is very common sense.
Dan W
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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 t ...more
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 startups/ ...more
Priscilla Reiss
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Igor Artamonov
Mar 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Step by step guide to running your company/startup, with a lot of details about every moment
Lori Grant
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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!
Vlad Calus
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
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 framework
Victor Volpe
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: innovation
“Startups are not smaller versions of large companies. Large companies execute known business models and startups search for a business model”

This insight from the first few pages already made me realize I was about to read a 5 stars book. And indeed I was. It was a delightful and very enriching experience that I surely recommend to all my friends (actually, I already recommended the book to both of my business partners even before I finished - something I am very cautious about).

4 steps to epip
Sergey Bir
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was tough to read. At times i felt angry at the author because he demands so much from the entrepreneur. At early steps of starting a company the founders must study their customer in excrutiating detail: the needs, wants, thoughts, patterns of behaviour, work environment, industry, influencers around the customer, resources, relationships, organisation structure and much more. And the founder must learn this not by thinking about it or reading about but by going out into the world and actu ...more
Igor Đukić
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: accf-7-business
In essence, the detailed book on how to establish a company from zero with an almost daily level "tasks" descriptions :)

Although some chapters very exciting, some are boring.
The theory is covered with stories but in a much smaller proportion compared to book titles written nowadays.

Favorite parts:
“Simply put, a startup should focus on reaching a deep understanding of customers and their problems, their pains, and the jobs they need done discovering a repeatable roadmap of how they buy, and buil
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
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.

-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 m
Yevgeniy Brikman
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 dra
Yogesh Baher
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
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. Spe
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 anoth
Lassi Koivisto
May 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Information and ideas: 5 stars
Editing and content layout: 2 stars

Great work from an informational perspective. The idea behind the journey to an epiphany (discovering and creating a successful startup) is transforming in its own sense, but the book is written very amateurishly and divided into too many repetitive concepts.

There's a reason why so many books don't pick up, even though they contain the most intelligent information. This is surely one of them. Steve's ideas are revolutionizing, bu
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: thinkers50
This book covers a wide range of topics, it's very detailed. The author borrows lots of ideas from others, clearly, he is a wide reader. However, the ideas are second-handed and somehow outdated. I am not saying it's not good, but many advices are suboptimal.

1. Type: Practical rules book.
2. Main idea: Four steps for early startups.
3. Major parts:
a. What is customer development model vs product development model.
b. The 4 steps in Customer Development Model.
4. Problems:
How to solve the problems ea
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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 sta

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“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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