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Fail Faster

Fail Faster

Failing fast is not a new idea, I just think it is an important one. Jim Collins mentions how great company's try hundreds of ideas and end up throwing out most of them. Stephen Covey reminds us to take the time to sharpen the saw. Many companies complain that there is not time to sit back and be creative and take new risks, there might not be time NOT to. Google allows every worker to spend 20% of their time on a new approved product idea or service of their choice. Thomas Edison and Napolean Hill are two more examples of people who failed greatly and eventually succeeded. Winston Church Hill said he could sum up the lessons of life in 7 words. "Never Give Up, Never Ever Give Up."

Failing faster is a competitive advantage that is sometimes smothered by politics, quarterly earnings goals, and misguided bonus incentives. If you don't reward someone for taking risks whether they fail or succeed than you could be stuck with a team that is not innovative and a company that doesn't change with the times or adapt to movements by top competitors.

Failure sure be rewarded equally with success as long as long as the same failure is never made more than once at your company. The tough part is coming up with enough valuable yet risky ideas that you can start failing in a meaningful direction towards success.

One way to fail quickly is by assessing the business directions and profit centers of your competition and try combining them with your own competitive position and advantage. Take their best practice and experiment with improving, combining or tweaking them. You will probably have close to a dozen projects running as a result of this and most of them will fail or only see moderate success.

Another method of failing quickly could be to take a survey of your customers. Ask for ideas, ways to improve, how you could wow them every quarter? Not an internet survey, not an email survey but an in-person interview with the 25 most influential, profitable and/or representational customers in your industry. They will have dozens of ideas to help improve your business and coming straight from the horses mouth it assures you that if it does succeed at least one segment of your customers might be interested in the new service or product.

One example of failing fast could be with my website RichardCWilson.com. I read about how to create websites and get them ranked in search engines and then tinkered with my own until I could start seeing it within search results. I tried dozens of methods to move my RichardCWilson.com up from spot #200 out of 54M search results and after trying at least 20 different ideas and reading more about the subject online I moved the site up from 200 to spot #10 with a plan to reach #4 by next year. Who cares? It is a bio website get over yourself Richard. I care because if I can get RichardCWilson.com up towards the top than I repeat that process 100x and I could also work on getting my websites to show up for more competitive search terms such as "sales publication" "sales book" or "sales training book." This could result in selling 100 copies of my book every day instead of every year. I think the trick is to start failing on a pilot project that allows an idea to run it's course without chewing up resources. Playing around with RichardCWilson.com has only cost me $8/year for the domain plus some of my free time.

- Richard

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