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Any Fool can be Gritty

November 4, 2021

Grit is a quality that is thrown around a lot in entrepreneurship.

Being gritty is important. Hard things require effort and iteration. The tricky part is combining it with the importance of letting go, experimenting, failing fast. Much of the guidance that you on complex issues can often seem contradictory. "Fail fast, but be gritty". The challenge, of course, is knowing in which situation to apply which guidance.

In which dimension are you supposed to be stubborn and in which dimension are you supposed to be flexible? At which level of abstraction should the notion of grit be applied?

Maybe this product feature didn't work so you try a new one. This entire product didn't work so we try a new one. The entire company didn't work so we try a new one. At which level are you supposed to fail fast and at which level should you be gritty?

Any fool can be gritty. It's knowing when to quit that is hard. This is where it becomes tricky. Quitting can also be tough, even when it is right. You might have employees who are depending on you, and they don't want to see you shutting the business down. Some companies have been going for 10-15 years and haven't gotten a real break. Although this is admirable in a way, you might wonder when you have proven that something isn't working. Many succesful founders had a few companies before they found a success, but once they got it right, it took off pretty quickly. Grit can also be shutting down and starting a new business.

Knowing when to quit something is one of the hardest things. Returns are often very non-linear ("lumpy"), and you will never know if big returns are just around the corner. For me I usually use the heuristic of continuing until I really want to quit, and then a little longer.