One thing I have always loved about the Colorado start-up community is its willingness to embrace (even celebrate) being wrong. Local leaders in this space, both investors and seasoned entrepreneurs, often talk about how they value the experience of failure in someone’s past. They know we learn as much from the pain of failure as we do from success, probably more. While we all instinctively know that inside, it’s not often that someone you respect (or want investment from) openly embraces that the ugly smudge on your trajectory to stardom has some value.
Maybe you made some bad hiring choices, didn’t read the market well, or let your co-founder relationships get rocky. Maybe your feature set was too broad, you didn’t pay enough attention to a competitor, or were overly confident with spending. There is nothing like the painful experience of dealing with mistakes that have huge consequences to make you swear to “never do that again”. It gives you the wisdom to recognize the signs of poor choices earlier than you might have without the experience. It also teaches you not to be overly confident.
But being right is not a destination. It’s not digital. It’s not like you are either there or not there. It’s really about how much of the state of “rightness” you are in. Yea, I know that sounds all Zen-like but it’s true. As entrepreneurs, we take in information, make decisions based on the story that data tells us, take action, assess results, and then go back to the beginning and do it all over again. Every day (heck, every hour) is spent in one of these stages, often all of them at once. If you get lazy, indecisive, or spend too much time in any one of those places, you’re dead. Or your path to success looks a lot like those old Family Circus Cartoons.
While your path from point A to point B will rarely be a straight line, hopefully you are at least headed in the right direction. YouTube started out as a dating site, Flickr was an online game, and Nintendo used to make trading cards. Were they wrong to have started as those businesses or was it necessary to start there to end up where they did?
Being wrong is just a data point. There is no shame in making a mistake as long as you take what you learned and put that knowledge to work.