If you study what the best entrepreneurs do, you will find that just about all them take the same approach to building their successful companies.

Once they sort of, kind of, have a handle on what they think they want to do, they:

  • Take a small step toward their goal
  • Stop to see what they learned from taking that small step
  • Build off that learning
  • Act again. By taking another small step.

They go through this act-learn-build-repeat model until they succeed, know they are not going to; or decide there is a more appealing opportunity.

And I have argued from day one that what works for these successful entrepreneurs should work for you, and you should try following their approach.

My advice often triggers this response:

Who the heck can afford to take step down a road that may lead nowhere? I have a finite amount of time, resources, and energy, and I simply can't waste them.

Agreed. But you really have only three options when faced with the unknown. (And nothing is more unknown than trying to build a business or organization from scratch.)

1. You can sit there forever thinking and conclude the situation is hopeless, or the problem is too big and/or confusing, so you do nothing.

2. You can do all that thinking we talked about in Option 1 above, and when you are absolutely, positively sure, you act . . . only to find out that a) you may not have been right, or b) while you were doing all that thinking, someone beat you to the solution.

3. You can do just enough thinking to take a smart step toward a solution, one that won't cost you a lot if you are wrong (leaving you enough resources to try again if things don't work out).

You can choose options 1 and 2. But I guarantee that your smart competitors are always going to choose option 3.

Sure, they are going to make more mistakes than you--but because they are taking all those small steps, they have a far greater chance at success.

And because they haven't made large bets, they will have enough resources on hand to build their idea, once they discover that a concept works.