An Entrepreneur’s Key Assumption…I am wrong

May 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

One of the first lessons I learned (the hard way) as an entrepreneur is that your brilliant idea, that you spend so much time refining, is most likely wrong.  More bluntly, it is a waste of time trying to get it right before you launch.  The better approach is to put out several hypotheses and let the market tell you which is right.

In my opinion, the key to entrepreneurship is planning to be wrong, learning from it and adjusting quickly.  The goal of a founder is to get the direction right, set up a learning culture and process and let the market tell you the best path to achieve your objective.  This was crystallized by something that a co-founder of Quantcast, Paul Sutter, once told me.  He said [and i paraphrase] “don’t waste any time trying to figure out which implementation is right, just put them both out and see which gets a better response from customers.”  I.e. A/B test it and let the data decide.  This is brilliant and was an epiphany for me.  It actually creates freedom.  And such a more efficient way to run a business.  When I worked for big companies, I remember spending considerable time debating minutia at the cost of launching the product in market.  Ugg…painful.  I won’t make that mistake with my new company…I promise.

note, this only works for a business with low fixed cost associated with trying new products/versions.

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§ One Response to An Entrepreneur’s Key Assumption…I am wrong

  • seth says:

    I agree Steven. I’d also add that many companies wait way to long to get their product in front of potential customers. I think it’s a desire to have things buttoned up, look pretty, etc. It’s amazing the crap you can put in front of people if you just tell them “hey – I know this doesn’t look perfect, but I’d love your feedback on the direction in which we’re taking this”. And what you learn can be invaluable. In one example of a company I work with that did this, we were something like 3 degrees off from where we needed to be. No problem fixing it. But if we waited 6 months to have figured that out that 3 degrees would have required a pretty significant bridge in product (think of two lines three degrees off – the longer you go out from the point of diversion, the larger the gap is between the lines).

    Good thoughts!

    seth

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