Is failure an option?
According to the fail fast business philosophy, it is.
Fail fast, fail often is a popular business strategy that emerged from the tech startups in Silicon Valley. But what’s it all about? The idea can be summed up as:
“An approach to running a company or developing a product that embraces lots of little experiments with the idea that some will work and grow and others will fail and die”
It’s all about embracing experimentation, learning from it and moving on.
So how can you make it work?
Let’s take an example. Say a tech company wants to test out their new app. They could spend months or even years perfecting their technology and working out all the little bugs, or the same tech company could put their app out out there and test it with their audience before it’s perfect.
If it’s a home run, the company can make refinements while the app is live. If things flop, then learning from this failure and moving on happens more quickly.
Focusing too much on perfecting an idea can often slow down a business. Putting a great deal of time and energy into something can also cost a lot. However, is failing fast a small scale move or a large scale tactic? If the tech company folds as a result of their app failing to launch, was it worth it?
So, does failing fast work?
Many critics believe that failure has been embraced too much in business these days.
It’s all good and well to experiment and learn from failures in order to find new successes, but constantly gambling away heaps of money – or your business – on quick ideas that haven’t been thought out is another thing.
An article in the New Yorker pointed out that this philosophy of failure has led to a boom in new startups that begin strong, backed by investors and crowdfunding, but crumble quickly.
“Because we don’t know how to identify good companies in advance, investors end up funding lots of them in the hope that a few will hit it big”.
James Surowiecki, The New Yorker
Does that mean you shouldn’t fail at all?
There’s a difference between making small failures and risking your business. You know what they say about putting all your eggs in one basket, right?
How can you fail without hitting rock bottom?
It’s all about exercising good judgement.
If a product or business model is working for you, why should you drastically change it? Similarly, abandoning something because it has become difficult isn’t always best. Sometimes you’ve got to stick at it.
Failing fast can be a great way to trial new ideas and learn from them, but it doesn’t mean you have to risk your business.
Just take a look a Facebook, now one of the most successful companies in the world. Their motto used to be ‘move fast and break stuff’. They’ve since changed this to ‘move fast with stable infrastructure’. Maybe not as catchy, but smarter.
Why did they change? Facebook realised they needed flexibility to test new ideas but they couldn’t do it by creating serious problems within the systems that supported their platform.
When the company was a small startup, failing fast was the key to developing their technology and growing their business. But back then, they were a small startup operating out of Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room. As a global company with a lot more at stake, it makes sense to shift from sheer speed to more strategic experimentation.
So, there you have it. Experiment away and test your ideas on a small scale. Figure out what you can afford to lose, but don’t sacrifice everything you’ve built on a whim.
If you’re looking to shake things up with new content and want to try a risk free strategy, get in touch today.