Think in Iterations

There is no overnight success. There are only small steps to your ultimate goal.

The first version of Tesla was built by eleven engineers in a one-year timeframe. Back then, a Tesla could drive only a very short distance. Later, Tesla became the first production electric car which could travel more than 300 km per charge. Every great product starts with a draft, a first version, and a first small successes to celebrate. And also, as Ernest Hemingway once said, “the first draft of anything is shit.” (And that’s OK.)

There is nothing perfect in the beginning of our journey. As we learn to walk as small children, we need to learn to become outstanding in everything we do. None of today’s iconic companies achieved success overnight. It took AirBnB 1,000 days to become successful. The creator of Pokémon Go spent almost 20 years working on the technology at the base of the game. The same applies to people.

Since it takes time to become successful, you need to start thinking in iterations. Every successful startup went through a couple of iterations before it became very successful. What? Do you really think AirBnB was waiting 1,000 days to score a breakthrough without changes? They changed their product, they changed their prices, and they changed their people. But they always had an unchangeable vision. A vision explains the what that you want to achieve, not the how. In the early days of a startup, no one knows how to do what needs to be done to get closer to achieving the company’s vision. The same applies to your life. You may know what you want, but you don’t know how to achieve it. And that’s fine — none of us know that.

But through thinking in iterations, you can get there very soon. Thinking in iterations gives you the ability to focus yourself on only the most important (small) tasks. Thinking in iterations shows your progress on your path, and it motivates you. Thinking in iterations avoids financial and personal disasters. If you think big but move with small steps, you can always change your direction. Thinking in iterations helps you go faster and build momentum.

Do things that don’t scale. A lot of would-be founders believe start-ups either take off or don’t. You build something, make it available, and if you’ve made a better mousetrap, people beat a path to your door as promised. Or they don’t, in which case the market must not exist. Start-ups take off because the founders make them take off. There may be a handful that just grew by themselves, but usually it takes a push to get them going. — Paul Graham, Y Combinator (from Do Things that Don’t Scale)

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