“Founders need to be more like artists.”

I had this thought whilst watching a painter at work. She would do a rough sketch, add complexity then tear it down when the layers didn’t match or didn’t gel. Once again, she would work back up from zero to until she had a beautiful painting of a yacht on a swing mooring in a harbour.

This sounds pretty abstract, but as a I watched I started to draw comparisons with how I feel startup founders need to operate. Startups need to be lean initially, just painting with the minimum amount of features needed. Just an easel and a grey lead pencil – just a lean MVP.

Starting with a minimum feature set in your app allows you to go in lean, with less cash and less complexity.

Now you make your choice. Is the outline working? Have you tested your MVP? Does the boat’s sail look oddly inflated? Does your market like your product and is it validated? If the answer is no, tear down your canvas and start again. An artist does not get disheartened by failure like this; they simply get a fresh canvas and try a new angle.

Trying this new angle is integral in business – can you approach the same problem from a different angle?

Once you’re happy with your sketch – that is, once you’ve got an outline of your app and people like it – you can add complexity. An artists adds colours, layers and textures. A founder adds features once the key ones are validated. When adding each feature the audience should be consulted to see if it suffices.

In startup land, this whole process is called hypothesis testing and consists of having an idea, testing it and killing it or scaling it. Artists do this EVERY DAY – they just don’t call it a test.

Keep repeating the steps above successfully and you may just paint the next masterpiece or create the next Uber or Facebook!

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