From speed of implementation to small bets: 7 powerful mindsets for entrepreneurs

#1. Speed of implementation: “sooner” is better than “perfect”

Whatever amount of time you spend perfecting something, the first version will suck. There is nothing wrong about that, even the best plan for this:

Every time we show a film for the first time, it sucks.
— Ed Catmull from Pixar

You will learn nearly as much on a quickly implemented version than on a perfected one, so why waste the time and energy? Focus on delivering as fast as possible. Ignore the details. Implement the essentials. Don’t multi-task. The title from Michael Masterson’s book, Ready, Fire, Aim should be your new motto. Spending time “Thinking about it”, “researching”, “reading”, “waiting”, “considering options” won’t give you the answers you need.

If you don’t know which path to take or which ideas to choose, just pick one randomly.  Since there is no way for you to know which is best before learning some facts, it doesn’t matter which one you choose. If it doesn’t work, try the next one.

#2. Improve only after you have found a potentially viable idea

Great ideas almost never appear into people’s minds completely formed. They develop through a discovery and improvement process.  Once you have found a potentially viable idea, gather insights from what you have built and improve on it incrementally as fast as possible. Always try to confront what you have built with reality. This is how Pixar’s movies start at “sucks” and finish at “great”.

[At Pixar],  being able to go from suck to nonsuck when developing a new film is a process of ongoing prototyping.
— from Little Bets by Peter Sims

#3. Leverage your strengths and resources

Make the best out of what you’ve got. What are your own strengths? What resources are available to you? What are the strengths of your network? Make a list of everything you bring to the table.

You will achieve more by leveraging your strengths than trying to fix your weaknesses. In order to do that, you have to spend time understanding what your strengths are. You could start with StrengthsFinder 2.0 and take the test included. It helped me a lot clarifying my top strengths.

#4. Use effectual thinking rather than causal thinking

A causal thinker asks: what do I need in order to achieve my goal?

An effectual thinker asks: what goals can I achieve with the resources available to me?

Effectual reasoning is a little strange at the beginning: you don’t start by focusing on only one goal, but it is very powerful when you are just starting and you have limited resources. If you focus on all the things that you are missing to move forward, you will feel stuck. Effectual thinking avoids that by forcing you to focus on what you have and suggest that you explore the possibilities of what you can achieve with them. You can read more about it in the article What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial? (second link from the top).

#5. Make many small bets rather than a big one

Try to make every move a small bet: take many small risks whose loss you can afford rather than betting the house. Building a complete product without feedback along the way and expecting people to buy it is a big bet.  Building simple versions and interacting frequently with potential customers is a series of small bets where you can correct course as early and often as possible. By keeping losses affordable, you are also more ready to experiment and explore. Since you know you will lose from time to time, you have to take these contingencies into account in your process. Capitalize on your small wins and learn from your failure.

Test Fast, Fail Fast, Adjust Fast.
— Tom Peters

The book Little Bets by Peter Sims explains this mindset in detail. It provides examples that range from how stand-up comic Chris Rock build a new show to how Pixar create such incredible movies.

#6. Failures are not bad if they are learning opportunities

Whatever you do, failures will happen. You must plan for it. If you always make your bets small enough so that your can afford to lose them occasionally,  then you shouldn’t be afraid of failure. You should also reframe every failure as a learning opportunity.

Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward….
— Thomas Edison

#7. Start really small if necessary

Something that held me back for a long time was the implicit belief that I needed to build a company from day one; that I needed all the pieces of the puzzle figured out, build everything and just throw the switch to “on”.

It’s is not the way you have to build your company. You can build it layer by layer, starting very small. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, try to think of a small part of the problem and focus on it. You will figure out things as they come.

What now?

Doing something is better than thinking about it. Try something now. Don’t look for excuses, look for ways to make things happen. Don’t worry about being perfect or getting it “right”. The best time to take actions on something that will move you closer to success is always now.

Exercise
– Choose one mindset and try to implement it on your own projects.
– Still confused on how to move forward? Drop me a line at sgignoux@gmail.com

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