Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lesson #71: Launch Fast! Fail Fast!

A few key words of wisdom I give entrepreneurs is: (i) launch fast; and (ii) fail fast.  I'll explain more of the guts of this guidance below.

Launch fast simply means figure out a minimal viable product (MVP) and get it into the market as soon as possible.  Too often an entrepreneur wants to build a "Rolls Royce" solution with all the bells and whistles that are in their head, instead of simply launching a functional "Ford" to start, and evolving to the "Rolls Royce" over time.  The MVP advantages of the "Ford" is: (i) it is less expensive to build with your limited startup capital; (ii) it can get your product in the market faster, before your competitors do; and (iii) it more quickly allows for consumer testing, to ensure consumers really like the core service and truly need the additional luxuries that would get built into the "Rolls Royce".

Fail fast simply means you want to learn whether or not your model is working, and has a reasonable chance for profitability and long term success, sooner than later.  Too often an enterpreneur: (i) hasn't clearly identified the key success metrics for their startup; (ii) doesn't put the proper tracking and processes in place to ensure such success metrics are met; and (iii) hangs on trying to keep a bad idea on "life support" for too long, simply because they can't walk away from their "baby".  All that does is continue to invest "good money" after "bad money", and exacerbates your pain and capital lost, when you ultimately have to shut the business down.  So, make sure you are clear on your ultimate success metrics and pull the plug sooner than later, as soon as it becomes clear you are not heading towards long term success.

Too often, an entrepreneur is afraid to fail, and unnecessarily prolongs their misery.  The sign of a smart entrepreneur is one that does not get too emotionally invested in their idea (to being blinded beyond the point of rational business judgment) and knowing that failing is OK, allowing you to "fight another day", albeit in a new startup or different direction that has a better chance for long term success.

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