Some entrepreneurs tell you: “Stick it out! Fight. Keep going. Be the proverbial bulldog.” Then there are those that say: “Iterate. Be lean. Done is better than perfect. Change. Leave when it doesn’t work out.”

It’s something that I’ve always scratched my head about. When DO you pack up and move on to something new? How do you know it wasn’t just a matter of time before your iteration actually found product/market fit?

To answer that question, I try to think about it in terms of “vision” vs “features”. The one is the peak of the mountain, the other is the road you have to take.

I have to thank my master’s coordinator for that mountain metaphor. You have a vision: be it “organising the world’s information” or “making the world a more open and connected place”. That is the peak. That is what you are always aiming for. At the bottom, you don’t necessarily know the correct path to take. There are several paths to the top. Along the way some paths might not seem as perfect as they were before. The path is the execution: the “features” you decide to use to get to your vision: the peak of the mountain. To “organise the world’s information”, you opt to develop a search engine. To “make the world a more open and connected place”, you opt to make it okay for people to use their real names in a new social network.

The roads you take along the way, those you have to iterate and change. If it’s not clear this road is taking you to the top, don’t be afraid to change. If you have enough “water” and “food” (resources), then changing is often better as you discover more (hopefully the best and easiest path to the top).

The peak you shouldn’t let go of. That is what you are striving for. That’s what you have to hope to reach. The paths you take aren’t set in stone. These you can change.

In a business you should strive to have a vision: some sight of the peak you want to reach. It can be broad, because the view from the top covers a lot of the world. If you are just building features and iterating without knowing where you are going, you are hiking paths that you don’t know where they might end. That is sometimes fun… if you have enough water.