5 Ways to Fail Fast

No one–almost no one–wants to fail. Especially entrepreneurs. Our level of investment, in all forms, is extreme.

But some of us will fail. It’s going to happen. And I have strong feelings about two parts of entrepreneurship and business failure. First, failure isn’t the end but part of the process. Second, if you’re going to fail, fail fast.

Failing fast is important because, you’ve heard the clichs: don’t throw good money after bad, cut your losses, get out while you can, and so on. It’s important because if failure is going to come, it’s best to get to it right away so you can learn and move to your next project.

But how do you fail fast?

Here are five ways to build fail fast systems into your business planning:

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Too Different, Not Different Enough: Why Instagram Direct May Fail

My friends aren’t using Instagram Direct, at least not yet. I’ve received just two IGD messages since it launched Thursday. In the meantime, over 20 close friends I regularly message with elsewhere have posted publicly to Instagram, and I’ve received about 60 Snapchat Snaps from 18 different people. It’s obviously early, but right now, I’m more inclined to bet against Instagram Direct than on it.

Yes, this is all anecdotal, but I have a few theories to back it up.

It’s not that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I’ve seen pretty strong adoption of Instagram Video in my network. It’s that you can’t teach an old dog to be a cat.

Instagram found a place in our hearts as an app for broadcasting moments. Take a photo (or later a video) and share it publicly, and specifically, to people who follow you. Now Instagram wants us to use it for private sharing. Take a photo or video and send it to one person or a small group. Those are entirely distinct species of communication.

presspage-decConvincing a userbase to break their ingrained behavior pattern and use an app for something completely different is a tough sell. And it’s a lot tougher if that “something different” is actually “something you can do elsewhere”.

If I want to share a photo with a few friends, I can text it, email it, or Facebook message it. These each let me get friends’ reactions and have a conversation around the photo. In fact, they’re all more flexible than Instagram Direct in that I can reply with another photo — the absence of that feature is my biggest gripe about IDG. It also suffers from a creation interface that’s too slow for sharing to such a limited audience. Filtering and adding a witty caption bog down the flow, making Instagram Direct too time intensive to be a rapid-fire visual communication tool.

And of course, if I want to private message someone a photo or video, I can Snapchat them. Snapchat has carved out a purpose and following with ephemerality — something that’s actually different. I can’t send a photo that disappears with any other major messaging service, so I go to Snapchat when I have something silly or racy to share.

So really, the problem is that Instagram Direct is too different from Instagram, and not different enough from everything else.

You’d think Facebook would have learned these lessons. Poke, its attempt at visual communication and beating Snapchat failed because it both demanded we change our behavior but didn’t offer something new. When we think of Facebook, we think of sharing something permanently, either on our timeline or in a message. Ephemeral messaging through Facebook didn’t feel entirely natural, and the company’s history of privacy stumbles made it hard to trust with such sensitive content. Meanwhile Poke was just a blatant Snapchat clone without much unique value to add.

Instagram InboxLast week I argued that if Instagram wasn’t building private messaging, it should have been. But in its execution, Instagram has produced what seems like a tired, tacked on alternative instead of a spacial complementary backchannel. Rather than letting you communicate back and forth with photos like a conversation or talk about photos already shared publicly, Instagram Direct messages are more like private posts with comment reels. Rather than providing an experience you can’t get anywhere else, it’s currently just another way to do the same.

Instagram changed photography by attaching a social network to the camera itself. Instagram Direct hasn’t because we’ve had a phone attached to our cameras for a while now.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

15 Worst Excuses Not to Be an Entrepreneur

Time to be an Entrepreneur

 It’s likely that one of your excuses is that you don’t have enough time–so let’s get right to it:

1. I’m too scared.

Join the club. Every entrepreneur is scared.

So you have a choice: Let your fears hold you back… or use those same fears as fuel to do whatever it takes to succeed.

Complacency is the enemy of achievement and fortunately fear drives complacency away.

2. I don’t have the right connections.

Between company websites and LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social media platforms you can reach almost anyone besides the Pope and maybe Bono. In fact some people are surprisingly accessible (maybe that’s one of the secrets of their success?).

Of course they may not respond. If they don’t that’s probably your fault.

Start small. Start feasible. Build a foundation. A great network is like a pyramid with a wide base, not a thin vertical line that goes straight to the top.

And never forget that the more influential the person the more they’re besieged with requests. Have a good reason to connect, give before you expect to receive, and you might be surprised by who responds.

3. I’m too late.

Yeah, Jobs beat you to the graphical interface and mouse, but Xerox beat him. Zuckerberg wasn’t first in social media. The list goes on. Innovation is never one-and-done; some of the most successful companies are based on refining earlier ideas and innovations.

You’re only too late if you’re not willing to be better, faster, stronger, or cheaper than whoever got there first.

4. I can’t get anyone to listen.

People will listen to anything that is entertaining, interesting, heartfelt, amusing, shocking, informative, titillating, stupid, satirical, controversial, sad, silly, sexy…

If you can’t get anyone to listen, the problem isn’t them. The problem is you.

What you want to say is irrelevant; change your message so it means something to the people you want to reach.

Then they’ll listen.

5. I don’t have the money.

As Growthink founder Dave Lavinsky says, being an entrepreneur is the art and science of accomplishing more with less–less money, less people, less time, etc.

Face it: You will never, ever have “enough” cash or capital or funding. Never. If you don’t have enough capital to launch your business the way you plan then change your plan.

You can’t always control what you have, but you can control what you choose to do with what you have.

6. I don’t have the time.

Everyone has the same amount of time. The only difference is what you’re willing to do with your time.

If you were trapped underground and only had 24 hours worth of oxygen you wouldn’t check your Twitter feed or chat with friends or spend a little “me time” in front of the TV. You’d dig your butt off the entire time.

Apply the same level of importance and urgency to what you want to accomplish and your schedule will instantly clear. Finding the time is always a matter of how badly you want it.

7. I don’t have the skills.

No problem. Go get them. Go to school. Read a book. Read 10 books. Talk to friends. Get a part-time job at a small business. Get a part-time job in a completely different industry.

Find someone who has done what you want to do and volunteer to work for free in return for the opportunity to learn.

Does that seem too hard? Like too big of a price to pay? Or simply not fair? Then accept you will never have the skills and stop complaining.

Skills and knowledge are earned, not given.

8. I can’t think of a great idea.

Dreaming up something new is really, really hard.

Reacting to something that already exists is really, really easy.

Walk around and start complaining (to yourself). You’ll see tons of problems that require solutions. Those solutions are ideas.

Or walk around your business and start complaining. There are tons of problems you can address.

“New” is hard to imagine. “Better” is much easier.

Again, most companies are built on “better,” not on “new.”

9. I can’t take that risk.

Any risk you take today is a risk you can recover from. In time you can overcome almost any setback, stumble, or failure, and emerge stronger and smarter and better equipped to succeed the next time.

If you never try all you will be is regretful: When you’re old and grey and “done” you’ll have to look back on your life and think, “I wonder what might have happened if I had only…”

That’s one risk risk you should never take.

10. I’m better at planning than execution.

No, you’re not. You’re just too lazy to do the grunt work. Or you think you’ve already paid your dues. Or you think you’re above it.

Or–pick your excuse.

Every successful entrepreneur I know can and does, when necessary, roll up his or her sleeves and outwork everyone else nearby. (That’s one of the reasons they’re so successful.)

You don’t need some undefined innate quality to be good at execution; all you need is discipline.

11. I can’t stop until it’s perfect.

Sure you can. You just don’t want to.

Maybe you’re insecure. Maybe you’re afraid. Maybe you fear rejection or criticism.

Do this instead. Do your best. Then step back. If a little more work will result in a markedly better outcome, go for it.

If a little more work will not make a difference anyone but you will notice, let it go. Then you make improvements based on the feedback you get from the only people whose opinions really matter: your customers.

12. I’m not comfortable doing it that way.

I was raised to be humble and self-effacing, so I hate to say I’m good at anything. But sometimes I have no choice; taking advantage of certain opportunities requires confidently describing my skills, experience, and accomplishments.

If you’re not comfortable doing something because it violates your principles or ethics, by all means don’t.

But if you’re not comfortable doing something simply because it will take you out of your comfort zone, you’re just rationalizing.

And you’ll never be more than you already are.

13. I can’t find anyone who gets it.

Oh, they get it: They get that it sucks.

Truly great ideas can be described in a few words. Truly great products can be described in a few words.

When no one seems to get it, the only person not getting it is you. Let go of your pride and agenda and “unique point of view” and figure out where you’ve gone wrong.

14. It’s too hard.

Long journeys are hard.

Individual steps are easy.

Say you sit on your couch all day and you decide to run a marathon. You’re right: That’s too hard. But you can go out today and run a lap or two. Or you can walk a few miles. You can take one small step towards a difficult goal.

And then another. And then another.

Or say you want to lose 50 pounds. That’s too hard. But you can eat one meal differently. Or you can take a walk at lunch. Or say you want to open a business. You can look at possible locations. Or work on your business plan. Or talk to a potential supplier. Or get advice from a mentor.

You can’t accomplish any difficult goal overnight, but you can accomplish one step, however small, towards that goal.

Think about the end of a journey and all that will be required along the way and you’ll never start.

Instead, just do one thing that will help get you there. Then build on it.

That you can do.

15. I’ll be too embarrassed if I fail.

Failing in public can be embarrassing, especially since some people love to talk about the misfortunes of others.

Those are the same people who would never dare try something themselves.

Don’t worry about them.

A whole other group of people will respect you for taking a shot. They’ll recognize a kindred spirit.  They’ll empathize. They’ll encourage. They’ll pick you up. They’ll know what it’s like to try and fail and try again.

Why? They’re people living their lives on their terms.

Like You.

-Courtesy: Inc.com