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The Key to Startup Success

    • 344 posts
    September 15, 2011 8:36 PM EDT

    Startup productivity is not about cranking out more widgets or features. It is about aligning our efforts with a business and product that are working to create value and drive growth. In other words, successful pivots put us on a path toward growing a sustainable business

    Failure is a prerequisite to learning. The problem with the notion of shipping a product and then seeing what happens is that you are guaranteed to succeed -- at seeing what happens. But then what? As soon as you have a handful of customers, you're likely to have five opinions about what to do next. Which should you listen to? A pivot requires that we keep one foot rooted in what we've learned so far, while making a fundamental change in strategy in order to seek even greater validated learning.

    Ask most entrepreneurs who have decided to pivot and they will tell you that they wish they had made the decision sooner. There are three reasons why this happens.

    1. Vanity metrics can allow entrepreneurs to form false conclusions and live in their own private reality.
    2. When an entrepreneur has an unclear hypothesis, it's almost impossible to experience complete failure, and without failure there is usually no impetus to embark on the radical change a pivot requires.
    3. Many entrepreneurs are afraid. Acknowledging failure can lead to dangerously low morale. Most entrepreneurs' biggest fear is not that their vision will prove to be wrong. More terrifying is the thought that the vision might be deemed wrong without having been given a real chance to prove itself.

    Entrepreneurs need to face their fears and be willing to fail, often in a public way. In fact, entrepreneurs who have a high profile, either because of personal fame or because they are operating as part of a famous brand, face an extreme version of this problem

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