You’ve probably heard the saying ‘fail fast’. It’s often thrown around in entrepreneurial circles, often entirely misunderstood. I don’t like the term because of it’s negative connotations, but I do believe in aspects of what it stands for. I prefer succeeding slowly, or testing the waters.
Succeeding slowly is basically another way of saying:
What is the bare minimum I can do to make a start and see if my idea is viable?
Essentially, you do the bare minimum to test the waters to see if there is a need for your brilliant idea. If it’s successful, great! Time to level up. If it’s a downright flop, get ready to walk away or change your course of action.
Everyone has a great idea
I am so lucky to have so many entrepreneurs and start ups swing my way with that contagious passion and determination – nothing can stop them as they take over their world, and they have the secret key to success – the best idea ever.
I often even have to sign ‘confidentiality agreements’ in some instances (don’t worry I am not going to steal your idea I have plenty of my own which I don’t have time to do). Most of the ideas are fabulous, but often I have to stop myself from literally saying ‘Are you crazy?’.
Everyone has great ideas, success is based on how well it’s executed and if it fits a need.
Don’t spend all your pennies at once
Particularly with online businesses, start small. Some people want everything now, blow all their money on websites and branding only to have zero money left for marketing, or even general operation.
Phase your approach and figure out what is the bare minimum you can start with and invest more money in marketing than features. If you have a great idea for a specific market, start a blog first, get a following and roll out the additional functionality as you gain interest, followers and momentum.
Ask friends who are in your target audience and potential customers (not just anyone). If you get a response with unbounded enthusiasm and money being thrown at you before you’ve even started then you’re potentially on a winner. If you get a ‘oh that’s a good idea’ swiftly followed by a change of topic, potentially you haven’t hit the mark and it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Whilst your friends may think your idea is great. The world may not agree, so you can test your idea by creating a very basic landing campaign. A basic web page with a sign up form to an email marketing system. Have a very basic introduction into what it’s all about with a call to action to ‘sign up to be first notified’. Once you’ve got your mini page set up invest some money into a search engine marketing or social media marketing campaign (eg. facebook advertising is great at tapping into your exact target audience). Cast your line and wait for the bites.
Be agile (adaptable)
Sometimes your idea is not quite on the mark, but it’s almost there. Allow yourself to change your path slightly to fit with what the masses want. Don’t be so dead set on your original idea, be open to changing your course, stripping back features or adding new ones in. Listen to your people.
Know when to give it away
The beauty with succeeding slowly is that it’s easy to walk away if it is a massive flop. If you’re not getting interest, helping people, not gaining momentum or making sales, then know you need to throw in the towel. Don’t keep sinking money into it if it’s not moving forward, know your cut off point.
Don’t get discouraged by a flop, put that thinking cap back on and get back to thinking of great ideas. Be thankful you didn’t invest your last penny in the idea!
Have you had a brilliant idea that you wish you failed fast or succeeded slowly?