Fail Fast

You hear that term a lot having to do with tech startups. The concept is finding out before you waste too much time and money that your product isn’t good enough to succeed in the market place. If it isn’t, you have enough time and money left to try another product, or several more products.

What Fail Fast is actually talking about is experimentation … Keep getting experiments to market until you discover a winner.Here are two quotes about experimenting by two people of some consequence that you wouldn’t necessarily think of as terrific CEO’s, in fact neither of them are CEOs’, but their talents obviously lean that way. Experimenting is the key to excellence.

“After learning your profession, you have to experiment, but most don’t. They do what’s safe and stagnate. “ Robert Greene

“As a Venture Capitalist, people often ask me why big companies have trouble innovating while small companies seem to be able to do it so easily. My answer is generally unexpected. Big companies have plenty of great ideas, but they do not innovate because they need a whole hierarchy of people to agree that a new idea is good in order to pursue it. If one smart person figures out something wrong with an idea–often to show off or to consolidate power–that’s usually enough to kill it. This leads to a Can’t Do Culture.” Ben Horwitz … Andreesen Horowitz

This is where I generally throw in my claim that credentials are overrated and credentialism is a plague on our society. Let’s say you have a Harvard degree, a school I turned down for various reasons, and you never experiment … then all you will ever have to offer your clients is your college degree. Like, so what?  Big deal. Let’s say you pass the CPA exam or the Bar exam or do whatever it takes to become an MD or DO, and you never experiment. You just follow instructions. Then all you have to offer is your college and your credential. You will never have more to offer your clients than the day you became credentialed. You have nothing that Google can give people. Your clients could save money with Google.

The thing that separates the chattering masses from the shining lights in your profession is … experimentation. Those are the people who know what to do in the unusual and uncommon situations that leads you to seek out a professional in the first place. They know because they’ve been there.

I came to this conclusion because of what i consider widespread incompetence in the accounting profession. I first encountered incompetence back in the dark ages soon after I first started practicing. For a long time I thought it was out of the ordinary. But after years of it, I simply had to accept as a matter of fact. I could regale you with tales involving the biggest firms in the nation, as well as professionals practicing from the trunk of their car. I can’t think of a singe accountant I would be comfortable referring. I have tried. I referred some Kansas City clients to a local professional, and that guy embarrassed me. I referred people to a bookkeeper and that person embarrassed me. So, never again.

Incompetence is widespread and experimentation is the answer.

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