Rethink Your Assumptions

Part of being an entrepreneur is making mistakes.

You will hit walls. You will get lost. You will be unsure of how to proceed. When this happens, rethink your assumptions.

A good way to rethink your assumptions is to play the “what if” game.

The rules are simple, treat the scenarios as legitimate possibilities, and brainstorm your best way out. There is no “pass,” you must address each issue head on. And you must play with each of your core assumptions by turning them on their heads.

You’ll be surprised the ways you find to dramatically reduce costs, staffing needs, sales cycles, and funding requirements when you play this game.

Here are my top 3 favorite what-ifs to start with:

“What if we had to be profitable in 3 months?”

“What if we could only hire one developer?”

“What if no one wants to use the product, even if we give it away for free?”

If you challenge yourself to address these issues and put your assumptions to the test, you’ll be able to quickly react to any issue you face while simultaneously building backup plans for the future.

4 Responses to Rethink Your Assumptions

  1. Sam O'Daniel says:

    I think this post relates to the last paragraph in your “Best Advice” column very well. It will challenge you to make sure that you’re doing what you *really* want to do.

    A good exercise. Thanks.

  2. Arthur says:

    Nice post. Let me question some assumptions. First, Rethinking assumptions is always a plus. Second, you appear to treat all assumptions as being equivalent. In some settings isn’t it plausible that some assumptions are more important, more critical than others? Also some assumptions are not always explicit and are hard to discern. Relatedly, individuals may not always recognize the assumptions they are making. While not without its own problems, having others involved in these assumption probing discussions can be helpful.

  3. faith like says:

    Like Magic, I like this post and agree on the plausability of plural distinct types of ordeals persay.


  4. alex says:

    I often think the hardest part is figuring out what the actual lesson is for any given failure and how that will affect your decisions when put in a similar situation in the future. sometimes it is obvious and clearly helpful, other times it’s just a difficult situation and it’s not at all clear how to change your actions so that it does not happen again the next time. btw, have you been following eric ries’s blog about lean startups at ? great stuff.

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