Action Produces Information, Just Keep Doing Stuff: Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong

Startup founders when they’ve just started their companies can agonize over every decision, carefully weighing the pros and cons, but that not be the smartest strategy at that point.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong says that early stage companies should just try out lots of different things. “If you’re pre product market fit, the best advice that I have from that period is, action produces information. So just, just, like, keep doing stuff, you know?” he said on a podcast.

“Paul Graham had a line. And he was like, startups are like sharks. If they stop swimming, they die. So even if you’re not sure what to do, just do anything, because when you do it, it’ll produce some information. Like, people liked it, or they didn’t,” Armstrong explained.

Armstrong said that this had helped him in his own journey. “This was very true for me. There was times where I just did something, instead of debating it endlessly, and we just shipped it. There was a couple times where the minute I shipped it, I knew we built this wrong, But that gave me an idea what to do next,” he said.

“If you’re at the base of a mountain that’s shrouded in fog, and you’re looking up at the mountain and you’re trying to think like, okay, how do I get up there? But you can only see, like, three or four steps ahead because the fog is so thick. So you have to just take steps into the unknown. And when you take three steps, another three steps will be revealed ahead of you, and sometimes you’ll end up on some local maximum. You’ll have to retrace your steps or whatever at times, but most people in life don’t take the steps into the fog, into the unknown, because it’s scary.” Armstrong explained with an analogy.

What Brian Armstrong appears to be saying is that startup founders need to, as the Nike logo says, just do it. It’s anyway extremely unlikely that they’ll ship the perfect product the first time round — instead of overanalyzing what might happen, and what the customer reaction might be, Armstrong says it’s better to just create something, and let people decide. If your product works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll have learnt something. And it’s through several iterations like these that you’ll hit upon something that ends up changing the world.