When you launch a business, you may be tempted to move ahead carefully and slowly. My advice is the opposite. Embrace speed. Speed!! Speed!! Speed!! is one of Rakuten’s Five Principles for Success and is a lesson I learned during my first 90 days.
To use speed in your early days, you must be committed to a pattern of launch and refinement. It is a process of constant improvement. In manufacturing, Toyota made this process famous – in Japanese it’s called kaizen, a topic on which I’ve written about before. When you launch your business, you must practice kaizen – constantly improving your product.
At Rakuten, we launched our marketplace with one initial pricing structure. As we proceeded, we realized it would be necessary to tweak that structure so it was sustainable going forward. We refined and improved it. When I made the announcement that I wanted our entire company to learn and become proficient in English, I set an initial timetable. I refined and updated that table as the process I call Englishnization moved forward. Englishnization has worked so well other Japanese companies have adopted it.
Too often, a worried entrepreneur will sit on a great idea, waiting until it is fully perfected before launching it. My suggestion is that process takes too long. While you are perfecting your wares in your R&D lab, your competition is out in the marketplace, trying new ideas, refining and tweaking as necessary, practicing kaizen.
Even in your early days, embrace speed. In our fast moving business world, speed is essential.