The paradox of entrepreneurship

The paradox in entrepreneurship is that on one hand you are supposed to be determined, and visionary. There is the idea that customers don't know what they want. Henry Ford famously said "If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses." On the other hand there is a school of thought that says you need to be flexible, practical, and that you have to listen to customer feedback.

This idea of being visionary is steeped in mythology. Steve Jobs is famous for not doing focus groups and being visionary. Yet he appears to read numerous emails from customers and is also famous for snooping around his retail stores. So clearly he takes into account customer feedback.

I have been researching lean startup and customer development and they are trying to resolve this paradox with the now overused concept of the pivot. The premise is you have to have vision and stick with it ("You can't split test your way to a vision"). You also have to gather customer feedback and metrics. Once your metrics stall and show diminishing returns on tests and changes, it's time to consider a broader change or pivot.

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