Fail fast. Everyone’s heard it before and I fully agree with it. The problem is; you have to hear it a million times before you agree with it, and ten million times before you actually do it properly. Successful entrepreneurs aren’t successful because they kept failing and persevering, they’re successful because they learned how to properly interpret a failure. There’s not a prize at the end of failing for the billionth time.
A problem many people have is that with each failure they will pick out the positives and pin their failure on a negative that they choose because they can see it. The real reason for failure needs to be understood, but we choose to pick out a negative we understand and want to improve upon. This means we can fail and improve over and over, but continue to fail because we’re not seeing why we fail, just what we could be better at and what we don’t mind spending more time on. Pinpoint the actual reason for failing, not just anything that could’ve been done better.
It’s not enough to fail and call it “learning” – that is just an easy excuse, a fallback we use to tell a good story and mask our underachievements. Learning isn’t helpful until it produces success, measurable in cash. Failure is vital to learn and learning is crucial to improving, but we need to make sure we are learning the truth. We need to learn the real reason our product wasn’t good enough.
Don’t listen to what customers tell you they’d prefer and don’t keep the stubborn mindset of teaching them what they want; use your failings to find what they REALLY want. What were they doing and what weren’t they doing? Why weren’t they doing something? Is there another way to approach this problem so they WILL do it? What the customer says they want is often wrong, but what you want to force them into doing won’t work – they’re real people with real wants and needs.
Stats and research competitors have done is worthless to you. Go out and get the information yourself because your users wont be the exact same people as everyone else’s. You will fail where others succeed and vice versa, so it is important to find the reason for YOUR failings, not look at what you did differently to somebody that succeeded and pin it on those things. In the same way you can’t copy another person’s success and expect your own – you need to be better. Plenty of times I have copied another person’s approach and failed miserably, without being able to pinpoint my failure because I did what somebody else has done.
Nobody else matters – your failures are your own and you need to understand them before you can truly learn and improve.