At the heart of entrepreneurship is a coin. Not so much a coin to flip, but a coin to choose, you know “two sides of the same coin…”. Within the Business Model Canvas1 this coin is at the crux of each idea, action, and, ultimately, outcome. It is at core a choice and it is this choice every entrepreneur faces when they look themselves in the mirror, when they struggle, and even when they succeed.
On one side of this coin is failure. For all the wrong reasons it is the face most often talked about, dissected, and focused on. New entrepreneurs fret about failing, or get asked what they’ll do if they fail. Entrepreneurial books, podcasts, and 10’s of millions google search outcomes drill down on it. I’ve sat on panels that had “failure” as the principal topic. It’s treated with a capital “F”, larger than life, the penultimate outcome. And despite all of the baggage associated with it, the energy dedicated to it, and the angst brought to life by it, failure is simply a choice. It is the cessation of action, in essence a decision to stop.
If asked what’s on the other side of the coin, many would likely say “success”. Makes sense, but here’s the rub, success isn’t a choice. You can wish for success, work for it, plan for it, even lust for it. But you can’t choose “success”. So what is the choice, as an action, that drives success? The other side of the coin is “Iteration”. It is the repetition of action, in essence a decision to keep moving.
In achieving success, iteration is more than simply the choice to keep moving. Iteration is the action taken when presented with changed knowledge from the outcome of a previous action. Iteration uses what was learned to determine the next action. This information comes from so many places, including: user feedback gleaned from talking to customers, a new set of research data from a local association, the results of an R&D or MVP effort, the input from visitors to a website or trade show booth.
Iteration can be small or large. It can be a single alteration, or whole scale change. A series of small iterations can lead to one large outcome. The breadth of change and level of risk is where the real experience of being an entrepreneur is gained and practiced. In the end though, there are 4 options for each iteration:
- Keep doing what you are doing in the planned direction
- Change a part of your plan and continue on in an altered direction
- Scrap the plan and restart in a new direction
The choice is yours.,. stop or keep going. Iteration is how entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies succeed.