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Many Small Steps

Get to Problem/Solution-Fit with Many Small Steps

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Get to Problem/Solution-Fit with Many Small Steps

A startup’s journey towards success passes 3 stages. Problem/Solution-Fit, Product/Market-Fit and Business Model Fit. These stages are not well defined and it is often not clear when you have conquered them. Many Small Steps solves this problem for the Problem/Solution-Fit stage. When you apply the Many Small Steps process, you’ve achieved Problem/Solution-fit when you’ve validated all your risky assumptions.

your customer


Many Small Steps supports early stage startups in their journey towards Problem/Solution-Fit.

the problem you are solving


Few Startup Founders know how to get to Problem/Solution-Fit or whether they've achieved Problem/Solution-Fit.

your value proposition


Many Small Steps helps Startups get to Problem/Solution-Fit by helping them validate their risky assumptions.

your solution


Many Small Steps is an iterative innovation proces supported by original online tooling.

How does Many Small Steps Work?

Getting to Problem/Solution-Fit is an iterative innovation process of experimentation and learning. Many Small Steps helps Startups to kick off their journey and turn movement into progress. When all your risky assumptions are validated, you have achieved Problem/Solution-fit.

the idea blueprint

Build your

The first step is building your Blueprint. This will help you structure your thoughts and let you quickly discover if your idea is a good idea


Define your

Some assumptions, when wrong, will kill your idea. Your Blueprint will help you define and identify your riskiest assumptions.


Set up your

Experiments come in many shapes and sizes. Your risky assumptions will guide you to the right experiments to run.

Step 1: Blueprint

the idea blueprint

Building your Blueprint allows you to structure your thoughts. In this step you will take a closer look to the 4 elements of the idea: the who, why, what and how.

Balance between the 4 elements is essential in your jouney towards PS-fit.

Your Blueprint is the foundation of your experimentation and learning process. So it is very important you don’t rush the process. Be critical. Be strict.

Your idea is packed with assumptions. Assumptions about your customer. About your customer’s problems and priorities. And about the effectiveness and feasibility of your solution.

Assumptions are good. They allow you to make progress. Risky Assumptions are bad. They can lead to failure when wrong.

You need to determine your riskiest assumptions, because they can make or break your idea. In step 3 you will validate your riskiest assumptions through experiments.

Step 2: Assumptions


Step 3: Experiments


You validate your assumptions through experiments. Your assumptions determine what experiments to run. Problem assumptions require customer development or a landing page. While solution assumptions can be validated with an MVP or a Concierge approach.

Experiments follow the Build - Measure - Learn feedback loop.

You start with your assumption and hypothesis. Then you explore how you can collect learnings effectively and efficiently. Keeping complexity, cost and time-spend to a minimum.

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5-times Why: Startups Fail

The success or failure of a startup can depend on a lot of factors. We want to single out the importance of Problem/Solution-fit and validating your assumptions. By 5-times Why: Startups Fail.

1st Why

Lack of Traction

Startups Fail from Lack of Traction

After launching their product many startups fail to gain traction. Without users and paying customers, they run out of money. Which creates a whole new problem: time spend on chasing money. In stead of spending time creating a product customers will love.

Other Reasons

Besides traction, a big reason why startups fail are Team Issues. Team issues are displayed in a lack of motivation, expertise and common vision.

2nd Why

No Market Need

Lack of Traction because No Market Need

The product fails to gain traction, because no one wants the product. In popuar terms, the product is not solving a problem worth solving. Problems worth solving are painfull and are part of your customer's top 3 priorities.

Other Reasons

Lack of Traction can also be caused by a substandard product that isn't loved or understood by it's target market. Also bad products often create undesired side effects that keep your customer from using your product.

3rd Why

No Problem / Solution-Fit

No Market Need because No Problem/Solution-Fit

Startups that fall in love with their Solution, often fail to create a market need. Sole focus on your product will never get you to Problem/Solution-Fit. PS-fit is a hard condition to creating a sizeable Market Need.

Other reasons

Something as simple as bad marketing can cause the 'illusion of no market need'. Product heavy teams often focus on adding features to make the product 'better' (retention). When they should have given some love to acquisition and conversion.

4th Why

Risky Assumptions Are Wrong

No Problem/Solution-Fit because Risky Assumptions Are Wrong

You fail to achieve PS-fit when your risky assumptions about your customer and your product are wrong. You probably overestimated the problem your customer has.

Other reasons

For this one, there a no other reasons.

5th Why

Assumptions Are Not Validated

Risky Assumptions Are Wrong because Assumptions Are Not Validated

Not validating your assumptions can kill your startup. There are ok reasons and not so ok reasons to not validate your assumptions.

For the OK reasons, Many Small Steps can provide the solution.

Other reasons

False validation can cause you to believe you have Problem/Solution-fit. So be strict in the validation proces, and don't fool yourself into creating a need that is not there.


Since Innovating through Many Small Steps is new, we prepared a Q&A to answer some of the questions you might have. If you don't find your answer below, you're more than welcome to reach out to me.

  • fingerprintHow will you benefit from applying Many Small Steps?

    Applying the Many Small Steps process will increase your chance of creating a successful startup.

    Many Small Steps will support you to get to Problem/Solution-Fit. It makes the Lean Startup process practical. And creates an environment for experimentation and learning.

    When you innovate through Many Small Steps, you will turn movement into progress.

  • fitness_centerWhat is our definition of Problem/Solution-Fit?

    Our definition of Problem/Solution-Fit is simple. You have achieved Problem/Solution-Fit when your idea has no more risky assumptions.

    That implies you've validated the risky assumptions that were part of your initial idea.

    After the PS-fit stage you know with almost certainty:

    • 1.    who your customer is
    • 2.    why your customer needs your product (what problem you're solving)
    • 3.    that your solution is solving the problem effectively
    • 4.    that your solution is feasible (economic, technical, legal, etc.)

    And you have the proof (the data) to back this up. If you don't have proof, you can't claim you have achieved Problem/Solution-Fit.

  • desktop_macWhat is our definition of Product/Market-Fit?

    Product/Market-Fit is also ill defined. It's not easy to determine when you've achieved it.

    A widely used measure is provided by Sean Ellis, who coined the term Growth Hacking. He 'claims' you've reached Product/Market-Fit when at least 40% of the respondents answer the question "How disappointed would you be if this product no longer existed tomorrow?" with "Very Disappointed".

    We believe this is a limited measure.

    Our belief is that Product/Market-Fit is the composition of Product-Fit and Market-Fit.

    • Product Fit: The stage where you start building your actual product. And where you optimise your product's effectiveness. You've achieved Product-Fit when your early adopters Love your product: when your scores for engagement, stickiness and retention are optimal.
    • Market Fit: after optimising your product for your early adopters, you expand your market. Expanding your market could bring in customers with (slighly) different needs. You have achieved Market-Fit when your product remains effective, while expanding the market.

    So, instead of an arbitrary question, you can determine Product/Market-Fit from your analytics.

    You've reached Product/Market-Fit when you've moved beyond your early adopters, but your customers still love your product.

  • attach_moneyWhat is our definition of Business Model Fit?

    When you got your product working as it should, you shift focus on the business. In this stage you make your business more efficient. Automate processes. Increase your revenue channels and experiment with pricing.

    To achieve Business Model-Fit you need to prove that you have a scalable, repeatable and profitable business model. At that point you are ready to scale.

  • codeWhy not use Strategyzer tooling (from the creators of the Business Model Canvas)?

    Many Small Steps is an online tool, to support your learning process. The Business Model Canvas is an offline tool, best suited for brainstorming.

  • compare_arrowsWhy create an Idea Blueprint and not a Business Model Canvas?

    The Business Model Canvas is a valuable tool. The worldwide standard for Business Models. The BMC is great for plotting and reinventing existing Business Models. For new ideas, with a lot of unknowns, we feel the BMC is not the right tool. When addressing a new idea, 7 out of the 9 elements of the BMC lack priority. And the 2 elements that do deserve your attention (customer segment and value proposition), miss the proper detail. The necessary detail the Idea Blueprint will give you.

  • grid_onWhat's up with adding different stakeholders?

    The power of the Idea Blueprint is addressing your idea from the perspective of each stakeholder individually. This enables you to clearly see the value, or the lack of value, for each stakeholder. And if your solution properly solves each stakeholder's problem.

    Enabling quick insight into the balance of your idea. Balance between the different elements (who, why, what and how). And balance between stakeholders individually.

  • high_qualityShould I go for Speed or Quality?

    With all tooling, it's not about using the tool, but getting the right results. Rushing the proces will hurt your results. So make sure you spend enough time building your Blueprint and addressing your assumptions.

  • faceWho created Many Small Steps?

    Many Small Steps was created and developed by Bas Hennephof. A mechanical & industrial engineer and innovation specialist from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Bas has 10+ years of experience with supporting, guiding and running innovation projects. As a problem solver, Bas set out on a Journey to solve the problem of 9/10 failing innovations in a scalable way.

  • redoHow did Many Small Steps originate and evolve?

    You are currently seeing the 4th online iteration of Many Small Steps. The journey began with the goal of creating an online startup incubator. Guiding startups in their path towards Problem/Solution-Fit and Product/Market-Fit. The original idea was that through a step-by-step approach, startups do the right thing, the right way, at the right time. This approach was extensively tested with two large dutch corporation innovation studios and 100+ startups. Based on these learnings, the value proposition and solution iterated into the current version. Making the initial proposition simpler, while increasing the effectiveness. In the current beta-phase, Many Small Steps is still in it's journey towards Problem/Solution-Fit.