This Is the Time to Take Risks, Not Pursue Perfection
We need to tap into our inner entrepreneur.
My mother and father are optimistic, entrepreneurial personalities. They worked together to build something out of nothing in a time of great uncertainty in their lives and have been an inspiring example that guided my own career as an entrepreneur.
I called my dad once, nervous about a round of funding I was waiting to hear back on. He said, “Just remember that a delayed decision is always worse than the wrong decision.” Since that phone call, I’ve repeatedly seen myself and others around me make delayed decisions instead of quick ones that can be perfected down the line.
But it’s incredible to see how much faster people can move when they’re okay with failing fast and not stuck on getting it right. These observations have coalesced into a mantra I like to use: “Just get it done, don’t get it perfect.” This mentality is what allows people to continue innovating instead of fearing imperfection and getting paralyzed.
Having the confidence to act requires focusing on what can be controlled, instead of focusing on uncertainty. At the beginning of the pandemic, for example, it was difficult to determine how businesses across all industries were going to be affected by the virus. As the founder and CEO of Knotch, a content intelligence platform, I’m fond of looking at data before I make decisions. Yet, I found myself lacking a true understanding of the effect of the virus on consumer mindsets or even what the virus really was. In the face of this uncertainty, I began to focus on what I could control—which was solidifying and enhancing the level of support we offer our customers at Knotch.
Working with my incredible entrepreneur friend Rachel Tipograph, we decided to study whether content—and particularly the measurement and optimization of it—was more or less important during this time. So far, we’ve seen content become even more important, with our customers increasing their content production. Companies are finding it more vital to know what works and what doesn’t. Because of this, we’re cautiously optimistic about our sector. We’ve seen strong demand for what we do in spite of the current reality, and that is only possible because we focused on what we could control.
I believe the companies that are going to win post-pandemic will focus on what they can control, and they will favor action over paralysis across three fronts:
First, healthy companies will invest in research and development as well as accelerate product development. They will go back to the core of who their customer is and what their needs are. At a moment when customer needs are changing, it’s vital to determine what’s important to them and ensure the company’s product pipeline reflects that.
Second, the companies that will have a distinct advantage are the ones that have invested in building a community during this time. That can happen through marketing, one-on-one outreach, or other methods. Ultimately, the goal is to move quickly to produce relevant content that helps people and reaches those who care about the things their brand cares about. If they’re successfully bringing people together around that, they’re going to come out with a loyal fan base who will quickly become customers. This is true for consumer brands as well as enterprise brands—if they can accomplish this as a consumer brand, they can have a leg up on some of the bigger, more established brands.
Third, companies that pivot to embrace remote work and offer a more flexible life to employees could have a positive impact on company culture and the way leaders show up. Those that transition to remote work effectively will probably continue to do so for longer, even post-crisis. They will have formed muscles around these kinds of operations, so they’ll likely continue having a hybrid model. The importance of in-person meetings will potentially decrease, but at the same time, the importance of company off-sites will grow. While I believe we need human connection, we can perhaps find more efficient ways to tap into it. Companies with a flexible approach could find there is a positive impact on mental health and work-life balance as they ease the stress of commuting, in-person meetings, and dress code. I think that’s going to change urbanization as well as the fabric of startups and large companies.
All of us are struggling right now on different levels. Some entrepreneurs and business leaders are trying to keep their companies alive. Others are dealing with the health of their teams and families. One of the best things leaders can do right now is to reach out to others for support and advice—other business leaders, entrepreneurs, and their own teams. Seeking out those conversations and getting some positive feedback reminds us we are not alone, and it provides context at a time when performance can be unclear. When the world is upside down, we all need to find ways to feel grounded.
Co-founder and CEO of Knotch
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