We’ve been blown away by the success of our new book Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons To Accelerate Your Startup. It’s already massively exceeded our expectations for sales and the reactions have been very positive. Amazing mentors produce amazing results, and this book is no different. Dozens of our mentors and past founders contributed to the book, and we think that makes it a very special resource for entrepreneurs.
We thought we’d blog a few chapters from the book so that you can start to get a feel for it. We’re blogging a chapter a week for ten weeks. Be sure to subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already done so.
There are seven themes in the book (Idea/Vision, People, Execution, Product, Fundraising, Legal/Structure, and Work/Life Balance).
This chapter is from the Execution theme. I’ve highlighted a few sentences, so you can discuss them inline. Feel free to add your own highlights!
Read this chapter (and others in this series) in the original layout using the online reader at BooksInBrowsers.com.
Have a Bias Towards Action
by Ben Casnocha
Ben is an entrepreneur and author of the book My Startup Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley. He has been a Techstars mentor since 2007
Learning experts agree that learning by doing is the best way to learn something. When you do something—when you pick up the phone and talk to a potential customer, launch a prototype, send out the first brochure—you learn infinitely more than if you think about doing it in the abstract. The best way to test the validity of a business idea, for example, is to start the business and quickly gauge market feedback.
The best entrepreneurs have internalized learn-by-doing to the bone. As my friend Josh Newman says, there are only two steps to entrepreneurship: start, and keep going—and you lose most people at the first step. That’s because talk is easy. Writing business plans is easy. Chatting about your business idea with friends at a party is easy. Taking an action—starting, doing—is hard.
It’s hard because when you take an action, it may turn out to have been the wrong action. Fine. When you have a bias toward action, it means you are constantly making decisions, and some of those decisions will surely have bad outcomes. But good decisions can have bad outcomes. Intel founder Andy Grove says the key to business success is to make lots of decisions and correct course very quickly when you realize you’re wrong. Always be acting, and with confidence, but always be ready to iterate and evolve your thinking if you discover you made the wrong move.
It’s hard because you’ll play games with yourself. Sometimes you might think, “If I wait just a little bit longer, I’ll get more information that will allow me to make a better decision.” No! General Colin Powell told his commanders in the Army that he expected them to make decisions on 40 percent of available information. Consider this when you next think you need more time to figure out whether you should start your business, launch the new product, or pick up the phone and call that CEO you respect.
It’s hard because self-discipline is hard. To take an action requires the self-discipline to actually sit down and do a thing. So let others discipline you. Tell friends and family what you plan to do, and ask them to hold your feet to the fire. External accountability works wonders.
But don’t take it from me.
Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, says, “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” As an entrepreneur, you should substitute “business plan” in place of “strategic plan” and then sit and deeply ponder.
Bill Parcells, the NFL football coach, posts a sign in the locker room before every game: “Blame Nobody. Expect Nothing. Do Something.” Even the most elite athletes in the world need to be reminded to do stuff!
Mark Twain said, “We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.” The question “I wonder what would have happened if . . .” hurts more than a bad outcome.
So what are you waiting for?
Like what you’re reading? Go order the book already!