Company Building-Internal and External Customers

The final stage in The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win is Company Building. Just to recap, the first three stages focused on discovering and understanding your customers, validating sales through the Earlyvangelists, and creating and sustaining a market for the product or service. This stage adds key internal factors.

Blank suggests three ways for a company to evolve from a startup to a major company:

  1. Build a mainstream customer base beyond the first earlyvangelist customers
  2. Build the company’s organization, management, and culture to support greater scale
  3. Create fast-response departments to sustain the climate of learning and discovery that got the company to this stage (2013, pg. 211)

The early stages focus on the customer, but in this stage focus is share with the organization and its culture. “Most startups don’t give much thought to organization and culture, and if they do, it may have something to with Friday beer bashes, refrigerators full of soft drinks, or an iconoclastic founder.” (pg. 214) This bureaucracy translates into “…a hierarchical, command-driven management style, process-driven decision-making, an HR driven employee handbook, and an ‘execution’ mindset.” (pg. 214) The culture extends beyond what it done, but how things are done. It creates the very threading to perception, policies, and the politics of an organization.

In this stage, the company becomes “mission critical rather than process oriented.” (Brown, 2012) Blank further expounds, “For mission-centric management to work, you need to ensure the intentions of all missions (corporate and departmental) are understood, not just by a few key executive, but everyone, top to bottom, in the company.” (Pg. 250)

Think back to your previous work experiences. How well were you orientated with the company? In banking, I was oriented by key people in the organization and in the departments. In academia, my first day was with a computer. The difference was like night and day. I can say that I felt more a part of a team in the former than the latter. What type of culture are you creating for you company and how is that culture perceived by employees? This Customer Develop Models pours so much time and energy into the external customers, please don’t forget to pour into your internal customers as well.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win is a great resource for growing a startup. I found that my SME used these stages without even knowing it. They have a successful restaurant and catering business that began with Customer Discovery; literally going door to door to businesses. The potential customers didn’t know they had a problem, but the city did lack restaurants. It took five years to actually move into what is now the restaurant site, but they would take nothing for this fifteen year journey of success!


Blank, Steven G. The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win. 2nd ed. California: Steve Blank, 2013.

Brown, P. (2012, June 03). The Four Steps to the Epiphany [Review]. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from

ENT 601 Reflections Week 8

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