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The importance of not assuming (in life and when creating a business)

But how easy it is to fall into that beautiful habit of making our own ideas and stories in our heads.

This article was translated from our Spanish edition. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


I once read a phrase that, personally, I really liked: "Before assuming or assuming, try this crazy method of asking ." And, if we really do an introspection exercise to think about the latest conflicts we have had in personal, work relationships and of any kind, I would dare to say that, for the most part, there was a time when someone assumed something. Maybe you assumed that your partner was saying one thing, when in fact he meant another; you assumed that behind an action of your collaborator at work there was an intention when it could be something completely different; Or you just took it for granted that the other person was going to do something they never did. I'm sure that while reading these ambiguous examples, you thought of something much more specific that has happened to you recently.

Just thinking about how many things could be avoided in case of trying "the crazy method of asking", it would seem even illogical not to do so. But how easy it is to fall into that beautiful habit of making our own ideas and stories in our heads. As absurd as it may sound on a personal level, assuming is one of the most common mistakes we make when starting out.

During the last years I have had the privilege of teaching the subject of Entrepreneurship and Innovation to young university students. The not so "pretty" part? Classes have generally been on Fridays at 7 am To illustrate the importance of not assuming, I like to do the following exercise with them. I ask them to tell me what they would think if in the next 10 minutes their house bell rings (or they knock on the door of the living room) and they see a person from a home delivery service with a food package for them, from me . Because you know, I want to be the most popular teacher and I had a good idea to send you breakfast. The answer? Always positive. Then I tell them that when they open the package, they realize that the breakfast I sent them was [insert here the least attractive breakfast in the world, which varies depending on my mood that day]. The new answer? They don't even eat it as a gift. So, reflecting together on the activity, we came to the conclusion that even in something that seems as obvious as someone may be hungry on a Friday in 7 a.m. class, they can still epically fail for not doing the job. simple question of "what do you want for breakfast?"

Entrepreneurship is experimenting to learn and, based on that, making decisions / Image: Depositphotos.com

    Many times, when we have an entrepreneurial idea, we fall so in love with it that we are unable to even think about asking if it is what the market wants. This "trap" can occur in many ways: thinking that the problem is a problem for the market; assume that our solution is the one that "fits" with the need that exists; assume the characteristics of the product or service; believe that the channels I am using are correct; among many other things or characteristics that we can take for granted without, precisely, asking the market or specifically the customer. What is the risk of this? Going to market based on a series of assumptions that are far from reality, which we will realize after a considerable investment of time and resources.

    For this, a series of methodologies have been created based on the idea of "pivoting" everything. An example is the Lean Startup method, which has become more popular in recent years for the development of companies, mainly technology-based. The key behind these is to create hypotheses, go out to validate or refute them, learn and implement or change hypotheses. Of course, Lean Startup is much more than just this and, if you still do not know this methodology, I recommend that you look for more information about it. It is these types of systems that allow us to reduce uncertainty and yes, fail, but fail quickly and cheaply, in order to learn and advance in the same way. The best part is that they allow you to be in a continuous beta process, in search of always improving, realizing that you never stop learning from your client.

    Entrepreneurship is experimenting to learn and, based on that, making decisions , thus adapting to what the market demands and not to your own vision, based on assumptions that are probably far from reality. Hence the importance of questioning everything, of testing all the assumptions we make and seeing them only as hypotheses and not as facts.

    My "poor" students always end that session hungry and without a breakfast sponsored by the teacher, but with what, I consider, a great lesson. Assuming can generate great disappointments. And as I always tell you what an entrepreneurial attitude we can all have, the lesson overlaps other areas of our lives: ask, ask and ask more. Starting with your client, but also applying it with your partners, with your boss, with your collaborators, with your partner, with your family: with everyone. Understanding that, always, the person on the other side is the basis for understanding a problem and, thus, approaching the indicated solution.