There Are Only 2 Guiding Principles for All Entrepreneurs Increase the experiments and shorten the feedback cycle. That's it.

By Jurgen Appelo

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The two guiding principles for successful entrepreneurs are as follows:

  • Increasing the experiments
  • Shortening the feedback cycle

It all began with a blog. In 2008, I started as a way to experiment with ideas and get feedback on my writing. Every thought that I had and every bit of content I produced went public through my blog as if it was my personal chat channel with the rest of the world.

Related: How Asking 'Why' 5 Times Can Change Your Life

This was long before the rise of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

It was completely the opposite approach compared to what I had done 10 years earlier. At the end of the '90s, I also had lots of ideas. But I kept them mostly to myself, and I tinkered endlessly with my texts, code and other creative endeavors until everything was "ready" for the public.

And then, nothing happened.

For example, for two years, I worked on a bookkeeping program that -- as I envisioned it -- would revolutionize bookkeeping forever. But one year after releasing the first version, I was still practically the only one using it. The world wasn't interested in yet another bookkeeping product.

While writing on my blog 10 years later, I worked the other way around. I wrote about how things should be and what the world could look like before committing to a single line of code for anything. This enabled me to understand, through conversations with my readers, what people really wanted. I could assess the value of my ideas with little more than thought experiments.

Ultimately, the interaction with readers made me realize that business coaches and consultants were in need of concrete management practices offered with a licensing program. And then -- my life changed forever.

Related: The Power of the Blog: 6 Days from Submit to Pickup Truck

The core principles behind almost all innovation, development and management methods nowadays are increasing the rate of experiments and shortening the length of the feedback cycle. You can see it in Scrum, in Lean Startup, in Design Thinking and in Management 3.0. I believe they should also be the two guiding principles for every successful entrepreneur.

When I was developing my bookkeeping software, I was effectively running one experiment which took me two years to validate. But when I had a blog, I wrote about many ideas on which I could get feedback in just one day.

In 2016, even a blog can be a bit too slow. You can validate your ideas with SnapChat, Instagram, Periscope or any other platform that allows you instant interaction with people across the world.

So, increase the rate of your experiments and shorten the length of your feedback cycles. It works wonders for your learning rate. It's what got me to where I am now.

How do you become a top-rated micro-multinational with a growing, scalable business and a distributed, self-organizing team? In a series of posts, exclusively for Entrepreneur, I will share with you what I've learned.

Related: 5 Ways to Get Out of a Rut and Enter a State of Flow

Jurgen Appelo

Writer, Speaker, Entrepreneur, CEO of Happy Melly

Jurgen Appelo is CEO of the business network Happy Melly. He is an entrepreneur, speaker, illustrator and blogger and the author of Managing for Happiness.

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