The failing of fail fast

These days when you walk into building or a house with a dark room, most people will assume there is some wiring within the walls and search for a light switch. In other words, you assume the room has:

  1. a light
  2. that the light will generate a sufficient amount of lumens

In my experience, this is a safe assumption, after all, we have building codes, building permits, and buildings inspections all designed to ensure that a room has, among other things, a light.

How does this tie into fail fast? Fundamentally fail fast proposes that you get a product out there and then proceed to adapt the product and hunt for customers until you either find them or you fail fast onto the next business. This approach is very attract to entrepreneurs because they can just “do something”, which is the behavior they are the most comfortable with.

I hate this approach to a business and here’s why – did you, the entrepreneur, do your homework?  Did you find a real market or a market of 3.  Did you have a strategy? Did you design a business model OR are you wildly flailing at any niche which shows any promise.

Wait – it can get worse.  What if you do get some market traction?  That’s good right – well maybe not. The real question is whether or not it is “good” business. That is, we all know not all customers are created equal and not all business models are created equal. So is this a healthy customer segment? Are the margins outsized? Is it sustainable? Is it scalable?

The message of fail fast sells well since it is a very palatable idea though, there are some thorns on that rose. BTW, VC Mark Suster has more detailed argument here – it’s worth your time to read.

Note: fail fast is perfectly acceptable for a project or a product, though neither one should equate to your entire business.

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