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Frodo's Ghost | The Biases of an Unsuccessful Entrepreneur
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Groceries and Train

The Biases of an Unsuccessful Entrepreneur

Startups are hard work. Trying to find the right idea to build, to fit into a market. In the trenches, working and trying to be successful. My projects have never made a profit, never made any money. I have been at the failed-end of start-ups, wishing for success and talking about how hard things are. A pathway of struggles to find that one product that will be a screaming success.

Over a glass of wine a friend and I talked about a project he is working on. We were talking of ways to make his project work and become a success. Their business has found a pressure point and need to think about how to make money, rather than spend years building their product. Something he said caught my attention:

We need to make money, so therefore selling a package our clients assemble will be the quickest way into the market.

We need this, so therefore that.

Maybe you missed it. But it caught my attention like a streaker at a football match. *The bias of a previous thought*. We need _this_, so therefore _that_. A casual thought; a previous thought had created a truth in his current the situation. It was a crux of his argument for moving in that direction.

It was not his thought that was the problem. It was the certainty of which he spoke it, the way that it came out into the open air as if a truth had been spoken. I am not disagreeing with what he said, in fact it may be the way that they make money – for me, it was the “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” that caught my attention.

And so, we talked of biases, and the fallacies we believe because… we have a thought and we therefore have decided.

My Startup Bias

It seemed so clear to me, when my friend spoke his bias out loud. The way that a previous thought had become The Only Way To Move Forward was striking. Our discussion that followed shed light to many of my biases where I have done the same things, making reality out of a single thought that I cannot unthink.

How many decisions have I made, thinking from my little bubble? How many business choices have I made, all from my own little world? My life as an entrepreneur, working day-to-day in little ideas, that have stayed small. What little things I have crafted, with the hope they will grow to become products one day.

We dig our own graves - using our own bias to guide us.

Last week I went for a walk and thought about a way to get a client to make money with their project. It inspired a seven page manifesto, which I wrote from my fractured thoughts and sent off. Their response made me feel hollow – not that my work was weak, they have been trying to make it work.

They have spent $160,000 dollars over the past five years to complete the first prototype. Two website system builds. A broken business partnership, that lost my client a huge relationship. They have spoken to 60 potential clients in Australia, and found one business willing to use it. That one business has spent two years making a decision to spend $10,000.

All my client has to show for this is a product that no-one wants (just yet), or sees the need in. After all this work, on their part, I had the gaul to send through a document on how I saw the world… Simple business instructions of basic-startup advice, and how we can make it work. The whole document was my bias – The Biases of an Unsuccessful Entrepreneur.

What to Do with These Biases?

Does my previous experience really affect the future? Have I created a start-up bias so deep that I am doomed to repeat the same thing? Does one failure beget another? Is there any hope out of my failed attempts? Does this open the road to possibilities or does it complicate things?

What hidden bumps or ruts has my past experience created in the road I have not travelled?

Have I peppered the road before me with ruts as deep as my arm, and speed-bumps like a Mexican highway, even before I have walked it? This is the problem with a bias – They are created on a road that has not been walked.

What kind of “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” thought pattern have I created? My Bias created from My Experience, and what can I do about it?

Discussion brings these biases to light. Surrounding myself with people who will spot a bias, and point it out is what I need to stop driving the road I have created before me. I had seen my friend’s bias and he was willing to look upon it with me. A community of people, thinking about the helping my ideas along the road to freedom.

Communities can create, strengthen and grow a bias – communities are great at generating self-created feedback loops – but having someone else to look upon my biases, who can point out my thought fallacies and then talk about them, is better than nothing. It is better than creating my own biases, from my own thoughts.

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