KV Sites on Facebook

fail early, fail often

Kae Verens ~ Tuesday 18th December, 2012

I just noticed this image in my Facebook feed (click to enlarge):

Thinking past the failures, the image says that if at first you don't succeed, you should try and try again.

Sometimes, the idea that you had (or the skill you have) is the right one, but it's the wrong time or the wrong target, and you should try again after a while.

One of my favourite business mantras is to "Fail early, fail often".

The idea here is that if you have a load of plans that can be brought to market quickly, then do them all. If 90% of them fail, the 10% that succeed should succeed well enough to pay for the failures.

If you put all of your eggs in one basket and focus strictly on one project, then when the project fails (as it most likely will), it will fail hard and may not be recoverable.

At KV Sites, we don't focus strictly on any projects at all. In fact, we create our products with the expectation that we might be the only people that end up using it, and with that built into our budgets.

For example, the Bizti project, a free invoicing tool, was built not because we thought we would make money from it, but because we needed an invoicing tool and thought we might as well offer it to everyone while we're at it. In accordance with the mantra, we don't focus on marketing this product - the tool is out there for everyone to use, and we don't mind if it fails or succeeds. If it fails, we will still be using it. If it succeeds, that will be better. We lose nothing either way.

Another example is our CMS management system. We realised that a lot of our time was spent in setting up and installing software for people's websites, all of which (the software) was exactly the same. So we wrote a "multi-tenanted" system which allows us to create off-the-shelf websites literally at the click of a button. Since it was now so easy for us to create websites, we decided we would give cheap websites to everyone, so the 20eu.com project was born. Literally, you can buy and set up a website for only €20. Of course, there's a little work involved, but you are free to do it or not. Again, we don't focus 100% of our energy on marketing it - either the project will succeed for other people or it will fail. Either way, we use it internally.

Another way to use the "fail early, fail often" mantra, is in advertising. If you are not sure what the best wording would be on an ad, but you have a lot of potential viewers, then split the viewers into random groups and show them all different versions of the ad. Some of the ads will suck, but some will "click" with the target and you'll get a sale. That way the failures will not seem so harsh because you now know what will work.