Proportional and Profitable

Testing ideas through failure
Great ideas are not scarce. Making them successful is.

I am not so sure that perfection is worth it in many endeavors. Sure, for space travel and heart surgery, we need a high level of perfection. But when it comes to trying to move people to action, building a new business or launching a product, it can be overrated.

The effort to get to perfection may not have a payoff. Yet, it’s seductive to pour a ton of energy into a concept before understanding if there is a viable market demand. You can hide behind perfection as a form of fear, in this respect. You don’t have to think about whether your work has a return on time or energy.

But who knows but you? If you don’t value your time, then it’s easier to bull ahead than step back and test before committing to something with immense detail.

Now I realize that there are areas that can challenge this thinking. I am not saying to push aside your common sense. But, I do push back and ask what is the minimum viable product that makes sense so you can test the concept.

If you believe that your new blog will be a hit, how about trying to put out your ideas for a several weeks with just 20 committed readers? See how they react and adjust.

If you think that everyone is going to come running to buy your new invention, how about selling it cheap to a few people that can give you feedback and get to use it in their own way? You may pick up valuable hints on how to further innovate.

There is just too much uncertainty when you start something without information. If success only lies in your mind without any empirical evidence, then you are a dreamer. It’s a dangerous place to be when any unanticipated variable can knock you flat.

It’s better to be proportional in your approach. Test a bit, get feedback and refine. Move to perfection through failure that is grounded in real customers experiencing your offering.

I write a bit, for example, about using consulting as a way to launch a product. You can be the user and have a tool to provide high dollar value. This is a form of testing and avoid betting the farm.

It keeps you from putting on the blinders and forging ahead based on blind enthusiasm. You also get to be the primary user, tester and marketer wrapped in one. You are not removed from the problems, you experience them firsthand.

Now, the big dreamers may have a rub with what I am saying. I can dream as big as the best of them. But, I also know that dreams and reality are intermarried in a sort of ruthless relationship. You have to think in terms of a proportional amount of work based on the uncertainty and how profitable you can be quickly. This way, your idea has a chance and you launch with the highest probability for success.

Always think in terms of this and you won’t have to boast about your grand failure. You get to be courageous enough to push a dream through to reality.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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