Experimental Costs

“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward”
Thomas Edison

Science requires thousands of failures in order to find a success. Following the success, we look back and rationalize why that one success was obviously the solution to the puzzle. Prior to finding it, we could not see it. This retrospection however, can cause us to think that we just need one brilliant idea to be successful.

The reality is that you are more likely to succeed if you can try a lot of things and the Internet is a great playground for that. It’s inexpensive to try different experiments and it’s easier to measure the effect. In many ways, you’re better off running as many experiments as you can, fail quickly, learn, and try again rather than trying to figure out the exact right strategy before you even start.

There is still an art to experiment design that should be consider, but trying to achieve perfection in this, often means that you lose out on serendipitous findings that come from trying lots of different combinations.  Again, there is much beyond our purview including whole groups of people we’ve never interacted with.

This means, if you can provide a successful service or marketing message to a small niche, the internet’s scale is able to make it be successful. One realization that shocks me is that there are THOUSANDS of successful products that we’ve never heard about. Products that are making a lucrative living for someone. Because we tend to ignore those things  beyond our view of the world, we believe we know of all of the successful things (or at least most of them), but this is simply not the case.

This ultimately means that your small idea may find a big tribe.

Got an idea? Try it out.







One response to “Experimental Costs”

  1. Sarah Avatar

    Your blog posting made me seek out success/failure quotes as food for thought:

    “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”
    ~ Henry Ford

    “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
    ~ Sir Winston Churchill

    “Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success.”
    ~ Napoleon Hill

    “There is no failure. Only feedback.”
    ~ Robert Allen

    These are just a couple of the myriad of quotes on the subject. If we go into a task or project or idea with the thought that we could fail, we probably will fail, in that sense of the word. If we go into something without fearing failure, we will succeed because we tried it, learned from it, and can go forward. Perhaps the root of failure is fear. To sum it up using FDR’s famous line from his inauguration speech on March 4, 1933, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

    Thanks for the great post – I’m feeling motivated now. 🙂

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