The mantra “fail fast” can inject confidence into the efforts of an inexperienced entrepreneur. Try out your idea, see where it goes, hope that if it’s not going to work it tanks quickly, then start over again.
But there’s a problem with how the phrase is sometimes applied. As a general concept, it can sound like a major failure is just part of the process of building a great startup. That may be the cases in some scenarios, but venture capitalist Marc Andreessen cautions that the approach is most useful in targeted applications.
“I think ‘fail fast’ works really well on tactics,” he said during the Disrupt SF technology conference hosted by TechCrunch in San Francisco. “I think ‘fail fast’ is catastrophic when it’s applied to strategy, if it’s applied to goals.”
Fail at that one early marketing campaign; maybe try not to fail at an entire company.
In an environment that emphasizes the motif of scaling quickly, long-term vision and goals still play a significant role in building a successful business, says Andreessen. Don’t let incremental data distract you from big-picture trends as they develop.
“It still takes a decade or more to build something really significant,” he says.
Andreessen also described his perspective on Twitter and the lack of a filter many internet users seem to have. Admitting he’s a little trigger-happy with the block button, he said free speech is a tricky thing on the social media platform but that he imagines a happy medium between free-for-all and restrictive safety measures will eventually be struck.
He doesn’t think the internet is changing how people think, so much as pulling back a veil. “We’re adjusting to a world where we know what everybody thinks,” he said.