Fail As Quickly As Possible If You Want To Succeed

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The most amazing thing in the startup world is, by far, building your minimum viable product. Your MVP. 

You have this incredible idea in your head that you’re trying to get in front of the world. It can be a new feature in your app, or a new product you’re offering, or even an entirely new company. What makes this as equally terrifying as it is exciting is the thought that’s existed in the back of your mind since day 1: What if I fail?

 

Before this totally reasonable (but horribly toxic) thought burrows its way closer to the surface where it will all but consume you on launch day, you have to come to terms with the truth: You probably will fail in some fashion. Nothing is a 100% success on the first try, and that’s fine. In fact, there is a motto amongst the most successful tech & product leaders around. 

Fail Quickly

This seems like a self-defeating statement, but it’s actually an affirmation of positive progress. When you fail quickly, you’ve discovered what is not working and can adjust to success as fast as possible. How do you do this quickly? If you’re typical, you don’t want to rush your idea into this world. You want to wait until it is 110% ready. But when you do this, you’re building out what you think is perfect - not what your customers think is perfect. 

Don’t Be Selfish

Your startup will only ever be successful when you do it for your customers. If you’re pushing your idea of a product down their throats and refusing to give them any input, you’re doing it for yourself. That, my friend, is selfish. It is also the quickest way to destroy your business.

Be Agile

Being agile means that you put your product in front of the customer quickly, listen to their feedback and adjust. By taking this approach, you can have your master idea put out in steps where each iteration is built on your original MVP plus a round of customer feedback, usage data, conversion data and any other metrics that help you track success.

You Still Need To Be Lean

Calling your development style “agile” doesn’t give you permission to put out whatever you want and then ask for feedback. If you aren’t putting out a lean product, you’re probably building too much. Remember the goal here: A Minimum Viable Product. Aim for doing the least amount of work possible on each iteration before you test. 

The Developer Problem

Business people tend to work well with lean development. Developers… not so much. Your app, website, product or anything else will never get released if you wait for it to be perfect. Find a happy medium.

Recap

Success stories in startups and in modern enterprises point to one truth: Failing quickly is the fastest path to long-term success. Do yourself a favor: Stay lean and fail quickly. The world will thank you for it.


Steve Eakin

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Steve Eakin is a startup founder, Jeet Kune Do black belt and taco addict. He is the CEO of Startup Black Belt: Helping people build, grow and scale their startups and the CTO of VenPath: The worlds largest data marketplace for accurate, compliant data.