Yuya Fujimoto

The number game

December 27, 2020

There’s a saying that ”Ideas are easy, execution is everything.” While I believe that is true, the context behind it is “when you have a great idea.” If the idea itself is dumb, you are not even on the start line.

So the idea does matter. And, no idea certainly work. There are terrible ideas that never work no matter how good you are at operating, bad ideas that don’t work 99.9% of the time, good ideas that may work if you are excellent, and very good ideas that can work if you are good enough.

You can spend a long time working on an idea that never works. As a person who experienced this exact mistake in my previous full-time job, avoiding this mistake is the first thing in mind when starting my own company.

Peter Levels famously did 12 products in 12 months project. It is an excellent approach for two reasons.

  1. You can finish your product in a minimal time.
  2. You make many attempts instead of wasting time on an idea that might not work.

There is a risk that you might stop working on good ideas too early. But if you think in numbers, it happens so rarely that you can forget. People often overestimate this possibility, especially if they took a step into an idea already. The benefit of making many attempts exceeds the downside easily.

Making many attempts is something I have been trying myself. Ideally, you want to center those around a specific audience or trends. But in my case, I didn’t, and still don’t, have a particular audience that I want to pursue, unfortunately, so my ideas are scattered around different spaces.

In the beginning, it felt good. Launching a product used to feel scary, but as my focus shifted to finishing, that feeling becomes less intimidating because I can move on to the next project. If it works, that’s great. But it is about to keep making products until I find something I want to double down.

Now I am 3 months in. With a little delay and the fact that I haven’t made substantial revenue, I started to feel scared. There are times that I have to doubt the approach.

In the acquired podcast, Courtney Allen said something vital for me to keep going.

Now my model that I have for it, kind of the framework of the way I think of it, in a way which I thought of it then was that everybody’s got a certain number of companies that you need to start before you succeed. For some people who are exceptionally talented, or lucky, or both, that’s just one. They’re going to succeed right out of the gate. Some people maybe it’s 35. For me it was seven. Really all you need to do is just to make sure that you don’t quit before you get to that number. That’s really the entire name of the game. Just don’t quit before you get to the number where you succeed. — Courtney Allen

I don’t think everyone can be successful only by keep making. For example, Courtney Allen would make better attempts and become successful way quicker than 99% of people if he is to start something new. That’s because he has a lot of experience, network, skill, and probably good taste. It’s essential to make sure that you make progress as an entrepreneur in every project, even if failed. Investing the time wisely so that your learnings compound well, such as skill acquisition and nurturing relationships, would make you successful in the end.

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