Lately, evangelists such as Seth Godin and Eric Reiss have been leading voices in the call for shipping quickly. Jon Burgstone, who holds the record for the fastest time from founding a company to exiting with a valuation higher than $1B, has a new book out that instructs entrepreneurs to gather ‘maximum information at minimum cost’ (and remember—time is money).
The message is simple: move quickly, fail fast, collect data, experiment and learn.
The natural question is: until when?
To what end?
Well, that’s sort of the point: there isn’t an end. Your product will never be ready…don’t make the naïve mistake of thinking that once you shipped, you’re done.
Unless you’re writing a book or doing a specific task, then you’re never done. Even in those cases, you probably have another book to get started on, or another task around the corner. Humans can leave projects or apply their efforts on new things, but companies exist for a purpose, which is something that is not easily changed.
If you’ve iterated fast, and published something new, then great…you’re on the right track. The critical next step is to realize that what you just shipped is already out of date. Dynamic, continuous improvement of your product or your business is expected for survival.
Big businesses usually stagnate because they stop innovating. At some point, the pace of reaching new frontiers stagnates, and that’s how others catch up.
No Light Bulbs: Where Are The New Ideas?
Great, so you’re a social entrepreneur, and you want to innovate, but you don’t have a great idea and you’re tempted to just take one that already works. First of all – if something works in one place, go ahead and replicate it somewhere else…awesome start. But the time will come when you need to innovate.
Innovation is not a light bulb…rather it is a lot like evolution. Animals developed helpful traits over time, just as fashion has evolved, computers have evolved and music has evolved. The same goes for business models.
Not sure where to look for ideas? Here is one simple rule:
Innovation most often comes from innovation.
New solutions create new opportunites.
Whenever something new comes about, look for the opportunities it creates (and even consider if it creates opportunities in completely different, more static industries…like Hulu did with streaming technology).
If you think you’re done; you’re naïve.