All the challenges that I have faced through my entrepreneurial journey have translated into valuable lessons. One thing I learnt very early, while launching products and scaling markets at Google and in Silicon Valley, was the notion of “failing fast”. The idea essentially is about knowing that if you’re trying a lot of new things, not everything will work, and you will not succeed at each of those ideas.
In start-ups parlance, founders and investors use the term “pivot” to describe the phenomenon. But each of these opportunities presents to you the forum to learn, to try even bolder things, and succeed at a whole other level. So the only lesson I learnt from “failing fast” is to try even newer, bolder things, to try them very fast, and to succeed at a scale that is much larger than where you started. I’d say the opportunity for me is to build a true, global scale consumer technology brand out of India. Hopefully, the “fast failures” of my life have inspired and steered me towards this big goal. Here, I pen down six lessons that entrepreneurs can learn from ‘failing fast’:
1. Fast is better than perfect: When you’re rapidly innovating you will try hundreds of new things, succeed at times while fail at others. One thing that I learnt early is that lack of speed and execution is a sure shot killer. Often people over think and delay idea launches, which result in failure. My advice is to do things fast, rapidly iterate, learn and move on.
2. Be humble, build relationships, and be intellectually honest: Above all, my advice is that be irreverent but humble. Humility and the relations you make early in your life, will go a long way. I’d also advise our youth to be intellectually honest and call a spade a spade rather than dance around it.
3. Take intelligent risks: While there are no fool-proof ideas, when you invest your time, money, and passion in an idea with a strong research and demand backing it, the probability of succeeding surely tips in your favour. Failing fast should never mean banking on ideas, which are set to fail from the very beginning.
4. Never make the same mistake twice: Failing fast can only be helpful when one actually learns from the mistakes made once. When one venture or idea doesn’t work as well as you hoped, accept it and go back to it only to analyse what went wrong. It will give you valuable understanding and insight into what doesn’t work and propel you towards what works.
5. Know when to be persistent and when to let go: As an entrepreneur, I have learnt that it is important to recognise the difference between a flawed idea that seemed promising at first and a flawed approach. A good idea requires persistence and you can rectify your approach and let your failed approaches act as stepping stones that can ultimately lead to success. On the other hand, when the idea itself is not workable, it is best to accept it as fast as you can, and then move on and take it in your stride.
6. Get things done, as execution is the only intellectual property: As they say, ideas are dime-a-dozen and execution is the only intellectual property. The only way big ideas come to fruition is when someone decides to work on them. Great companies, ideas, and people are actually great at execution.