Get stuff done

“A good plan violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” – General George Patton

If there's one thing that's become clear to me over the years of running a startup, it's that you need to value people, decisions and actions that get stuff done.

There is certainly a lot of value in doing things “right” and striving for perfection in design and development and marketing and sales. But in the overwhelming majority of cases, an attitude and focus on “getting it done” almost always leads to a better outcome in the long run.

Getting something done means you can learn from it quicker and do it better next time round. Iterate faster. Learn faster. Improve faster.

Act now. Not tomorrow.

We've had a saying for a while at GoSquared – “Act now. Not tomorrow.” It started as a way of explaining our product – super easy to use, real-time analytics that your team will actually use. But it developed into more of an attitude that we work with across the team.

We've still got a way to go, but we try to, in as many cases as possible, take action sooner rather than later, even if there's a possibility of doing something better or smarter or cooler tomorrow.

Why not wait until tomorrow? Sure, what does a day matter? A few hours here and a few hours there. Who cares?

It turns out, hours add up. Hours add up to days. Days add up to weeks. As you multiply it out across the team, across multiple projects, weeks become months.

You end up spending months with code and designs and projects and conversations that just sit stale and lifeless. You spend months holding back new features and ideas from users. Of holding back questions from real insights.

You waste months, an hour at a time.

“If everything seems under control you're just not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti, racing driver

Sometimes it can feel like pushing a new feature out today, or starting a new sales conversation this morning is just too soon. What if people try it and it breaks? What if things move quickly and they want to get going before we're ready?

When running a software company, there's very few things that aren't undo-able. You can hit CTRL+Z on almost every decision you make when you're a young, small, hungry tech startup.

That's why erring on the side of “do it now, worry about it later” often works far better than “worry now, prepare, and then do it later”. All the worry, all the planning, all the preparation is often worthless because that new feature will only be used by 10 customers, and that sales conversation is going to take 3 months before you get a commitment.

Find people that feel comfortable when things are moving fast. Set up processes that encourage quick decisions. Remove barriers to shipping features to customers. Don't punish people for moving fast and breaking things.

Act now. Not tomorrow.

James Gill

CEO and co-founder of GoSquared.

London, UK