Balance between Action and Knowledge

Basic economics: Abundance of and access to knowledge makes actions more valuable. 

There is too much information about startups. There is too much knowledge about how to build a startup. Too many books, too many ideas, too many coaches and speakers, too many ways how to do it the right way. Knowledge is abundant; it became a commodity. Certainly, we created a situation, where action and execution are overvalued. And naturally, knowledge undervalued.

I have observed the increasing denial of knowledge in entrepreneurship. Although I am an advocate of action, I concluded that we should not underestimate the impact of knowledge in our actions. What matters is not the one or the other. But rather the connections between action and knowledge. Here are three connections between them I found so far:

1. Action generates practical knowledge. A practitioner is, therefore, generating practical knowledge by his or her actions. It would be stupid to ignore this valuable knowledge, which already has an aspect of practicality.

2. Knowledge is always actionable. Many people make a mistake and separate knowledge from action. And this is probably the issue practical entrepreneurs have a problem with. If you know what needs to be done, why don’t you do it, what holds you back? There are couple of reasons that block our actions: fear, too much or lack of information, thought patterns, wrong strategy, wrong people, etc. If knowledge in not executed, something is missing. Find out what it is.

3. Too much knowledge is paralyzes action. Overthinking, overanalyzing and gathering too much information is number one reason for not taking action. This type of situation leads automatically to a very unproductive activity because all actions are directed toward gathering information, which becomes a one-dimensional cycle: Action is taken to gather knowledge, which fuels more action for details. Especially, in the early stage of a startup, this cycle can absorb many resources and discourage actions at all. The world is multidimensional, startups are multidimensional. You need to move, not only inside but also on the macro level. Make steps. Make wrong steps, but make them.

Now, if ideas without action, are just dreams, then actions without ideas is just madness. So what is the point? The point is time. As you move along the timeline and develop the business model, talk to customers, gather expertise – there will be the at right time necessity for the right knowledge and right action.

For example, I experienced knowledge and advice overload in very first steps of my startup journey. It was mainly management and operational advice, which is great but not at the right time. Hey, we just started. I was convinced that a business plan in the beginning is not the right tactic. So, I insisted on building and re-building the business model again and again. This way we built a solid foundation for the business model and now we know exactly, where we are going and which market we will not only address but also create. The vision became clear and the business plan was not a pain anymore. It was just a lot action and a lot of fun, at the right time.

Knowledge has the power to adjust our actions, but it should not dictate them. There is a delicate balance between action and knowledge. And there is one key skill, a startup entrepreneur needs to develop to survive. I will share this insight in the next post.

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