“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.”—Cypher Raige, After Earth (2013)
“Henry Ford once said: ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!”’ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”—Steve Jobs
There’s a key difference beween the progress realized by simply “doing something” (compared to doing nothing) and the progress achieved through “deliberate means.” You’ll want to build your business around activities that can be duplicated. That duplication can be incremental or preferably exponential scale (think: hockey stick) of excellence as the founder(s) define it (by achieving product market fit and growing from there).
A typical example of the “doing something” approach is the work a founder does to get the proof of concept into play. Without experience, copious amounts of luck or copying competitors (re-learning what others have apparently already learned), this method of progressing has lots of waste as a by product, whether that be time, money or other resources and asetts (like your credibility due to promises unkept).
While first getting into SEO years ago, I quickly realized that I could not come to meaningful conclusions without doing some experimentation on pet projects so I could have some data to react to. By the same token, while building a user interface I realized that sometimes I couldn’t finalize an approach without a working prototype to refine my thinking. These are just a couple practical examples of how we all start the ball rolling, but this is only the first step, it’s not enough, an excellence doesn’t come easy.
The “zone” I like to be in is the one of deliberate means. When in this zone, everything counts - every step is forward progress and value permeates every aspect of the project. I call it the zone because it’s similar to that magical place athletes and entertainers go to to perform at their best. They’re not going through the motions, their activity is actually quite significant, they’re executing in an excellent fashion. The ability to enter this zone is what separates excellence from the remedial.