Often our failures carry such a pain because of how much we have invested into our ideas. We give them so much of our time, energy, and capital that when our project doesn't meet our expectations it feels like such a personal loss.
The concept of fail fast that I have been trying to embrace recently is developing the minimal, minimal viable product. Only the heart of what the product serves to achieve.
I try to create three things
At this point, you might be thinking that I've missed actually building the product off my list, and you would be right. With every idea that I come up with, I know that I can find a way to make it. What I don't know is if people want it or will use it.
Working in this way has meant that I am very quickly able to see if one person wants my product. I know that if one person finds value then multiple people will. As soon as I get the validation of knowing that one person sees value, I then see that it's worth my time to build.
Working like this means that when I can quickly write off an idea. Maybe it's too hasty and maybe I'm leaving great ideas behind. But I've learned that just because I think something is a great idea, it doesn't mean that someone else will.
Recently I had a brainwave that I could set up a flow that made it easy for people to generate QR code contacts. There are countless websites online that let you do this for free, but the idea was to use a stack of Typeform and Make (Integromat) to make a user-friendly super simple flow. I set up a landing page with analytics all with free trials, and then ran some Facebook ads directing users to the site.
Out of the 100 visitors, not a single one clicked to purchase a QR code for a one-time $5 purchase. Had they clicked it they would have landed on a register interest page only, but this gave me the proof of failure I needed.
If you talk to someone about statistics, they would tell you my sample size is too small, and that I would need to test it for longer, in a variety of markets. But for me it's enough to know that there are better ideas out there, that will have a more instant resonation with people.
Failing fast like this has meant that I am far keener to take on projects because I no longer fear failure. Instead, I feel relieved that I didn't spend all this time for little gain. I also deeply enjoy the notion that, If you throw enough darts you'll eventually hit a bullseye.