Patience is a Virtue in Innovation

October 9, 2019

Preview – In each newsletter, members of our network share their reading list with us. This story features Kola Akintola, who is an AWEC TA and digital advertising professional at Guardian Nigeria Newspaper. Kola shares his perspective on this Strategyzer article – Patience is a Virtue: An Amazon Case Study in Three Parts – written by Lauren Eve Cantor. Kola shares his professional experience on how entrepreneurs can work through the evolution of their product or service until they get it right.

Entrepreneurs often give up on their business too quickly. They find it difficult to persevere and iterate until their business finds the perfect product – market fit. However, the case of Amazon is a shining example of how persistence and patience can lead to the development of a wildly successful business. 

Today, Amazon is globally recognized as an innovative company, but this success was only achieved because they were able to adjust to the results of their market experiments. “Amazon was not crippled by the need to push out the perfect product the first time,” says Kola Akintola, AWEC Teaching Assistant and digital advertising expert at The Guardian Nigeria. 

In fact, Amazon started out as an auction platform in 1999, began offering storefronts to third party retailers in the same year and finally in 2000, evolved into the 175 billion dollar marketplace that it is today. 

Stubborn Vision, Flexible Methods

“Be stubborn with your vision and flexible with the details on how to get there,” Kola advises. He explains that many people get discouraged when they don’t achieve their goals as quickly as they planned to. In reality, many entrepreneurs need more time and determination to get to their goals. “Your MVP is an experiment,” Kola says, “and the way customers respond to your MVP should determine the direction in which you improve the product.” Kola offers this and similar advice to the dozens of AWEC participants whom he supports throughout their 12-month collaborative learning experience.

In the case of Amazon, there was no time limit to their innovation. If there was one, they would not have evolved into the marketplace that delivered the perfect product-market fit. Today, the largest e-commerce business in the US accounts for over 31% of retail services. 

So what does it mean to be stubborn about a vision yet flexible with the details on how to get there? According to Kola, “Once you know that there is a market, do not be hesitant to put out a product that isn’t perfect. Keep your vision in mind and let the customers tell you what they want and how they want it.” 

Amazon’s Business Model Portfolio

Embrace Failure

Is there ever a time when you can completely turn around from a product? According to Kola, there are times when you realise that there is no market for the product or service you are offering and you will need to completely change your business. However, too often, entrepreneurs give up not because of a lack of market but because they lack the patience to adjust their value proposition to suit the market’s needs.

In his words of encouragement to young entrepreneurs, Kola says: “Don’t be too hard on yourself, if you do not push out something, you won’t get the feedback you need to create the perfect product or service.” 

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