The Other 90% of the work means you’re only halfway done

Do you ever get 90% of the way through building a new business, product, or project only to realize you’re only halfway done?

This happens to me and every entrepreneur I know.

I call it the “Other 90%” of the work.

You already put in a ton of work, but your task list doesn’t get any shorter.

Entrepreneurs are enthusiastic optimists. We chronically underestimate.

Entrepreneurs do things we haven’t done before. How hard could it be?

Many entrepreneurs are more visionary than operational. It’s just hard to imagine all the aspects and details to make something of reasonable (viable) quality.

The work of these things is ALMOST NEVER estimated correctly:

  • Building an MVP software product
  • Raising any investment money
  • Getting paying customers
  • Getting the word out about your product
  • Building a community
  • Getting to $1M ARR
  • Selling to a new market
  • Acquiring a business
  • Writing a book
  • Selling your business
  • Getting that big new software, system, or process working well

Underestimating the effort is so universal in startups that you’d think we’d get better at it.

But maybe we don’t want to get better at estimating.

Some people say they don’t want to know about all the effort and challenges before they start.

“If I knew how hard it would be, I probably wouldn’t have attempted it.”

And we often underestimate what is Minimum or Viable when we first build our Products. The bar usually gets a little higher the closer we get and the more we learn.

I think this estimating “problem” exists because entrepreneurs start on difficult things before we have everything worked out. A bias for action.

We know we’ll discover new things that need to be done and just do the work until it’s done enough. Planned perseverance.

Starting is easier than “finishing enough” to launch something and go live. Then the iteration game starts.

For the important things, the start-build-finish improvement cycle never stops.

Startups just have to finish up well on the most important work to be done.

If you’re working on something big enough, there’s always the Other 90%.

Successful entrepreneurs and builders EXPECT the Other 90% of the work to show up.

And they GO FAST to get through it quickly!

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