In 1999, the Dotcom boom was working itself into a frenzy. Companies were being incubated on the back of cocktail napkins and venture capitalists were throwing money at anyone wearing sandals and eyeglasses.
Around this time, a couple of brothers in Irvine, CA launched Printnation.com in order to disintermediate the traditional distribution channels and provide printing supplies to printers across the country. With just over $30 million in venture capital in hand, the company launched, grew to 125 people, and closed its doors in the span of two years.
And while this story and countless other Dotbombs seem like a blip on the radar, a closer look shows the remarkable impact that those failures have had on the world of business. The lesson of failing fast is one that can be seen at a macro level and has great value at the micro levels of our business and even our personal lives.
Years after Printnation.com closed down, e-commerce got a great deal of press. In a very short amount of time, it found itself in a trough of disillusionment and persona non grata in the mainstream of business. However, e-commerce is no longer a stand-alone channel. It was integrated into our everyday lives and now is simply part of commerce as we know it.
Whether you call it the bleeding edge or the pioneer’s advantage, the fact that a faction of passionate techies took action was the impetus of progress. Their willingness to fail fast ultimately created the path to the business environment we operate within today.
In “Fail Fast, Fail Often”, authors Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz highlight the concept that successful people take action as quickly as possible, even though they may perform badly. With the use of stories like Howard Schultz’s creation of Starbucks, Babineaux and Krumboltz, remind us that the most significant accomplishments in business and life arise out of countless mistakes and failures.
Our mindset within the corporate walls can often become stagnant out of our fear of mistakes. We would hate to stick our neck out and be held responsible for anything that went wrong. However, progress comes from those who are willing to step up and step out. As our dotcom predecessors taught us, and the greatest business minds throughout history have proven, action cures fear and good enough is good enough.
Tom Moe, VP of Sales & Marketing
“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”