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Does Self Assessment Really Come First?

I spend a lot of ink on self assessment in my book.  I always thought that you have to figure out what you’re capable of and can do and are good at and passionate about before you can make a wise choice to be an entrepreneur.  In my analytical, architectural mind, that makes sense: build a foundation of understanding—of yourself, your customer, your product—before you build the product and the business. However…

I recently saw the results of a poll on an entrepreneur-oriented web site that had 51% saying they think it’s a better idea to learn about starting a business by just starting a business.  Only 22% thought they should get prepared by talking to successful (and unsuccessful) entrepreneurs or read books before they make the plunge.  That just doesn’t seem right to me.

Here’s my dilemma: I started out by just starting out; damn the torpedoes and all of that. I figured it out as I went along and I succeeded with luck and balls.  Now, many years later, I’m telling people what I learned: that you can really screw it up if you don’t learn a few things first. Luck and balls are critical, but getting some experience and wisdom and direction first is important—I think.

To use a sailing analogy: I think it’s best to learn where the rocks are by reading a chart, not by running into them.

I’d really like some discussion on this. Is self assessment important?

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