Saturday, 5 December 2015

Be afraid to fail! And don't!

"Don't be afraid to fail" is widely misunderstood and comes with several disclaimers.

It has become an entrepreneurship cliché: Don't be afraid to be wrong or to make mistakes.

Well, we are afraid to make mistakes, and for good reason: If you mess up, people don't easily forgive or forget. 

On the other hand, it's important to keep experimenting and keep testing the market so that you can play to the actual market.

So firstly and most importantly of all, I think "fail fast" applies to your market research and planning. Try to prove your most basic assumptions wrong as early as possible. If you can't... well, only then do you have a product!

Try to sell before you do the work. Some services and products need careful market research and planning, but many don't.

Don't lie about your ability. You don't have to advertise it - but if you're asked whether somebody is your first customer, it's okay to admit it, but play to your prior experience and the things that set you apart. It may just be the fact that you're taking a fresh new approach.
People value honesty and relationships run on honesty. Currency is a cheap substitute for trust.

What if you made some mistakes in the running of your already successful business? Well, as long as those mistakes are the result of your best planning and reasoning and you don't have to cover it up or explain it away. If you just get on and you're honest and straight about it do what needs to get done: be apologetic, but not overly so, and don't go into defensive mode or victimize yourself, just carry the lessons from your failure with pride: eventually you will be forgiven.

But make sure you dissect your mistake and that it leads you to better insights that you could not otherwise have seen coming.

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