It’s All About Phase 2

I actually do not watch SouthPark. But anyone who’s a tech geek has probably come across the following meme…..Phase 1 [insert great idea here] Phase 2 […….] Phase 3 [Profit].  Turns out, it originated in a Season 2 episode of the animated series where the boys are trying to learn about corporations and some underwear stealing gnomes share their business model.

Clearly, Phase 2 —making an idea happen — is the hardest and of course the most important.  I think one of the reasons Phase 2 is so difficult for start ups is that in the beginning when there are so many ideas and so many possibilities it’s hard to figure out where to focus. Every time you spend time in one area you feel as if you are forfeiting an opportunity in another. Yes, I’ve been there. It’s really hard to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 when you’re swimming in options that all seem equally attractive.

In this case you’re going to have to do the work of doing just enough work on each option until you have enough information to make a decision. Notice I didn’t say all the information. When all the information is available the opportunity will be gone. No, I mean just enough information that gives one course of action even a slight advantage over the other. Then you go hard and go fast until you reach an end point. And then you do it again.

Outside of decision making, another reason is brilliantly summarized by Paul Graham of Y-Combinator in his post on Schlep Blindness. His point is that we don’t even see the great ideas/solutions because we think executing is going to be too hard. In all honesty, I think many of us do see the great ideas/solutions. But we have schlep aversion. Especially those of us who have done it before and know what we’re taking on.

Unfortunately, it’s exactly the people who have the insight and experience to implement the really big ideas, who are the people who can can look ahead and see just how big a schlep it’s going to be. So a lot of those big ideas stay in the planning phase while we try to figure out how to adjust them to avoid the schlep.

Perhaps we could figure out how to give the people who have schlep aversion a little schlep blindness. I’d start working on it now, but the schlep aversion is already kicking in……

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