Monday, March 12, 2012

Whatever You're Thinking, It's Probably Wrong

The entire audience was silently engaged, on the edge of their seats, as Tony Zito of mediaFORGE was as open, honest, and transparent as I've ever heard an entrepreneur be when explaining the dark days of being ready to give up on a start-up. You can read some of the great Twitter stream from the event here: Tony Zito of mediaFORGE was Excellent.

As they pivoted from business model to business model, Tony realized that he could not come up with his best ideas in a vacuum. He learned this principle: no matter what he was thinking was best, he was almost always partially wrong, and sometimes completely wrong. His proof: he cited a study that found that 60% of companies are now doing something completely different than when they started.

It takes a level of humility, self-awareness, and honest/realistic perspective to accept that conclusion. Tony was making plans to close down his company. He had expressed this to his investors and, in one last effort to salvage something from his multi-year effort, flew to San Francisco, hoping to "fire-sale" his entrepreneurial baby, lick his wounds, and then figure out what was next.

As the meeting came to a close with no acquisition interest from the other party, Tony openly shared that he would return to Utah and close the company. The party suggested a business model that Tony and his partners had contemplated many times but was not economically feasible given the investment capital through which he had already burned. The party offered to give the required inventory for free, and before long the company had paying customers, had completely reversed its course, and was on a growth pace of more than 50% per quarter...which has continued for the last three years.

Pretty impressive, and a great example of: whatever you're thinking, it's probably wrong.