Ask the readers: Do you need to walk before you run?

baby steps

Have you ever heard the expression that you need to walk before you run? Within the last week, two individuals have stated this to me because they feel that I have been jumping knee deep into new ventures without knowing enough about them. In most cases I would have to agree with them, but in my personal case I would have to disagree.

When I started my first company I did not know one thing about running a company. Plus, I had no corporate experience and I did not know anyone who could help me out. Due to this I lost all my money during my first venture, but this mistake got me to where I am today. Now granted if I learned to walk before I started running I probably would have saved thousands of dollars, but who says I would have still made millions.

Due to my age I am probably naive, but I personally feel that in many cases you just have to start running and not worry about all the things you learn when you start walking first. I would love to hear what you think about “learning to walk before you run”?

PS: If you fall when you are running, please don’t get mad at me. 😉

P.S. Do you have a new company that needs help running? click here.


  1. AMEN – I am definately one of those runners – I have a hard time worrying about the minute details in the beginning while starting a venture and have an easier time looking at the big picture and going after it then come back and fill in the blanks. I guess its one of those things where, when you have an idea – stroke of genius – you just gotta run with it, see where it takes you, and if it starts to take off then you go back and work on the foundation to make sure your growing venture doesn’t fall flat on its face because of cracks and leaks in the structure. Just my take on things through experience. Risk takers may fall but the fall never holds them down, it only gives them the knowledge and experience to catch themselves before they fall again, success on some level is inevitable over time.

  2. I agree with the “take off running” approach. Things will most likely go wrong in your initial ventures no matter how you prepare, so why not jump in and get going?

    • With your first venture, you are totally correct. Question now is, do you take of running in your later ventures?

  3. Hi Niel,
    In my personal experience, it is always always better to run than walk.
    I have fallen at times while runinng but I make sure I fell forword atleast making some ground.

    So just run baby as you will notice it takes courage to run.

    All can think of walking
    Many can walk
    Few will run.


  4. Hello Neil,

    You say you failed in you first venture because you had no prior bizz experience and no one to ask for help. Was dealing with the above factors important for your future sucesses

    My reason for asking is that i am not running because i too am lacking experience and trying to figure out how best to start.

    • They were very important to my future success. Some say that it is better to learn from other people’s mistakes and in most cases I would have to agree with them, but there are some mistakes that you need to learn yourself.

      I highly recommend that you start running. 🙂

  5. I think making mistakes is a good thing. You need to learn what to do wrong because what you do right takes off.

    • Learning from them is the key. I know tons of people who make mistakes and keep on making the same ones because they never learn from the past.

  6. Hey Neil: I think even if you decide to run with something, you at least to know what you need – shoes, where you’re going to run – how to run. You can either choose to start slowly or take off like the wind (and maybe stop really soon). I guess my point is that running first is great, but you still have to prepare.

    • Even with walking you still need things like shoes, but will it get you were you want to go? No matter what situation you pick, there is still some preparation that is needed.

  7. Wow! you guys love your analogies. but it is good advice.

  8. I think it’s important to do one’s research, but the more you read and plan, the more likely you are to procrastinate, come up with an excuse or otherwise talk yourself out of doing it.

    The fastest way to learn is just to dive right in. Take an idea and run with it. I think this is especially true for internet-based ventures. It’s particularly easy and cost effective to just throw some spaghetti against the wall and see if it works.

    • I personally am not a big planner. I have created numerous Internet companies and have never made a business plan.

      But that being said, for every company I did start, I did try and do the basic research to cover my ass. With my first company the research I preformed was not that great, but as I created more companies, my research process improved.

  9. Hi Neil,

    It all comes down to personality. You’re either the running type, or you’re not.

    Both strategies can lead to results. And, the more comfortable you are with the approach, the better the chances of success. So the running type should go running. The speed-walker should do just that.

    People often give advice based on their own fears. Not that it’s meant badly, it’s just their main concern. The fact that they mention you shouldn’t run, means they’re not runners.

    Now, there are two things you can do:
    – Think about their advice, so you can better see the pitfalls of your approach
    – Find other runners and find out how they got so damn fast!

    This will give you the best of both worlds.

    Good luck with your new ventures,


  10. Sterling @ Bizlift Blog :

    When it comes to business I think of running as taking the plunge. There is never a perfect time and there will always be excuses, so it’s best to just run with it.

    Even if you are risk-averse and still working a full-time job while researching on the side, and “playing it safe” by learning all you can about a new business venture…you are still running with it by learning and preparing for it.

    We each just run at a different speed given our passion and risk tolerance. The ones that run the fastest might take the biggest tumbles, but they’re also the ones that will get to their goal first.

    Thank you for the thought-provoking article.

    • Not sure if they always get to their goals first, but in most cases I would have to agree with you. There are millions of runners out there who have not achieved their goals because they do not learn from their mistakes.

      • Sterling @ Bizlift Blog :

        Ah, great point. Learning from mistakes is key. I suppose getting back up and continuing to run after falling is a big part of running. Otherwise you’re not running, you’re quitting.

  11. He who hesitates is lost (especially in cyberspace).

  12. It really depends on your situation. I turned down a big contract recently, for several reasons – but mainly I worked out the possible downside and it wasn’t worth it to me.

    I would say, work out the possible downside of each deal and decide whether you can live with the risk. That is the smart way to take risks.

    Now, I don’t know your situation completely, I’m guessing you’re referring to the conferences and that teaching program you’re going to be doing.

    Remember you also have the experience of others involved in those ventures to draw on. And it must be very nice to have that combined marketing power – it can’t be costing a whole heap to market either of those ventures. And the upside is probably huge.

    Is the downside worth the risk for you? If so, you’re doing the right thing. Good luck.

    • It actually was new business ventures that took large amounts of money. The conference is great and holds very little risk for me.

      • I see. So you are busy then. It sounds like your biggest risk is losing that money then.

        I think only you can make that decision Neil. You have to work out whether the potential upside is worth risking losing the money.

        Is there a way you can minimise the risk – eg – do you need to put all the money in upfront? Or is there a way that you can test the viability of the venture first on a smaller scale?

        • I try to minimize risk as much as possible, but the investments I usually do have high risk. I go after the high risk investments because I like the high return. This causes me to lose more money, but at the same time it allows me to make more.

  13. There is no “right” answer here, I feel that you should be educated as best as you can before jumping into something. I am not suggesting that you take months to educate yourself but you should take advantage of the flow of information at your fingertips on the Internet. Within a week or even a few days you can get educated enough about anything to make sure that you don’t fall within the first few strides that you take, whether you choose to jog or run. In this day and age, I don’t think walking is an option.

  14. Vahid Chaychi :

    This post was really amazing and impressive.


  15. Well, as many stated before, there’s no right answer here…

    But it’s funny to realise that I proceed through business as I proceeded with learning to walk as a kid ! I started running before walking… question of balance I guess. BUT I always took someone I trusted with me, holding a finger or two (yeah, I used to drag people around like that).

    I still do that now, with business : I start running when I’ve found someone liable that will help me keep my business balanced. But I got educated in the way, so now I ask before dragging people with me. Am I not very nice ?

    Anyway, in theory i guess it’s best to walk before you run, but in practice I think some people will never move if they don’t start with a jolt and then keep running…

    Good luck to all runners, walkers, and joggers around here !

    • I am actually the same way when it comes to bringing in other people. The last thing I want to do is lose someone else’s money or time.

  16. Absolutely. It’s tough enough failing alone, it’s even worse bringing others down with you !
    But I noticed that it gives me even more will to be successfull when I have partners involved. AND we mustn’t underestimate the power of combined knowledge and experience.

  17. Neil,

    I recommend strategic research and planning to my clients all the time. I do think it’s vital, but…. Many call long after having jumped in, and are ready to do the planning that they didn’t want to do in the first place.

    The conclusion I’ve come to is that a lot of people who think they “jumped in,” with no plan, really had a clear Vision for months or even years before they jumped.

    Writing it down isn’t the only way to make a plan. Sometimes you’ve taken half your life to know what step you should take next, you just don’t realize that is one version of a plan.



    • For some people plans are great and I can see why they need them, but for me they just don’t work well. With some of my ventures, I probably would have saved a lot of money by making a plan first, but due to the industry I am in, time is money.

  18. I personally have tried walking, and running. I think jogging is the best way to approach a situation. When you walk, right when you pick up speed someone else passes you by. When you run, you forget to look back and miss something important and then the person walking steps all over you. When you jog, you slowly build up speed, allowing yourself to be educated, learn, and have a great experience.

    Bottomline: Don’t rush, don’t lag, just break a sweat.

  19. I can’t do anything but run. And yeah I’ve made mistakes in the past, so I’m trying to make new ones, not the same ones. Being an entrepreneur, a tech entrepreneur based in Jamaica, the Caribbean carries with it its own challenges.
    There is no venture capital culture, because the Internet is still a few years behind the USA, myself and a couple of other colleagues ARE the pioneers, so we tend to look to the US,Europe to ask for help,partnerships and now venture fund. The cool thing is though, that regardless of some of the obstacles with access to the Internet, the barriers to creating a web based business is low enough to make for cool opportunities no matter where you are.

    • I have actually heard the flip side to this story because some people feel there is no point in running when their country is a few years behind. I like your attitude because if your country is a few years behind, it is that much wiser to get ahead of the game while you have the chance.

  20. But you know Neil, it can be pretty darn frustrating that you gotta be dragging many people along with you, to the point where I often feel like simply moving back to the States and get a pretty good job there ( I returned home from Boston in 2001) because in a sense at times, you feel like singing Bob Marley’s song “I won’t wanna wait in vain for your love”. My attitude is great at times, but sometimes not.
    Any suggestions on how to really make an impact here?

    • I personally am not a fan of dragging people along, but if you have to, drag others who can provide value. They may not be able to help you at first, but as long as they can provide some sort of benefit down the road, it usually is worth it.

      And if you are just dragging people who can provide no value, then stop dragging them and just run.

  21. I believe more in a little planning & prep work before just jumping in. I wrote a whole post on this topic, motivated by this post.

  22. Hey Neil,

    This is a great topic. I too started out running and probably “spending” more than I should have in the beginning. Sure a few lessons were learned along the way and I definitely had some failures.

    The one reason I think you will do just fine no matter what ventures you get into at this point is the following. You surround yourself with other successful people. This is something most people starting out in a new industry tend to forget.

    • Good point. Surrounding yourself around successful people is one of the most important aspects of success. If I never surrounded myself with successful people like you, I would have never succeed. 🙂

      • I completely agree – success breeds success and the positivity generated by successful people tend to inspire and create energy in those around them. My current success in business is largely due to my network of successful and well known people and continues to prove itself over and over.

  23. Of course, you need to learn how to walk before you can run. However, you don’t need to be expert in walk before you can run.

  24. I agree with most of the others here. Personally, this is something that i also end up doing, i don’t think i can help it either. I want to be successful, and i will put my all into it. So, i will “run” along, and hope for the best.

    I think a lot of it is instict. Learn to trust your instinct, and it can take you a long way. Know when it is time to run, and when it’s time to walk, if ever.

    • A lot is instinct, but you have to learn to train your instinct. Before my instinct used to lose me a lot of money, but over the years it has learned through my mistakes and does much better now.

  25. Hustle Strategy :

    A few things.

    You generally avoid analysis paralysis when you jump into thing.

    You also do not talk yourself down.

    One of the biggest problems a lot of people have is starting, this gets you past that.

    Once you have started you have the ability to progress and continue. Success usually will snowball. You also begin to see other opportunities once you have started. That is where I feel your real success lies.

  26. michael brito :

    ahh fuck it. sink or swim, thats my philosophy.

  27. Hey Neil, if you teach branding, watch your image. You have flash marks on your eyeglasses!

  28. Hi Neil,

    You walk or run, whatever, you do, everything is destined. How does it matters if you run or walk?

    • It matters because one gets you to your goal at a different pace. If you walk when you should be running you could lose out on opportunities (and vice versa).

  29. I beg to differ – if you walk your “destiny” will turn out the way that road leads – if you run, it will turn out completely different – you have a choice whether to walk or run so ur destiny isn’t pre-determined, it is decided by your actions.

  30. You make a valid point when it comes to the size of a jump. If you are making minimum wage and you want to be Bill Gates, it does not matter if you walk or run. Either way you probably will not get there.

    So before you decide to walk jog, or even run, you probably need to make sure your goal is realistic.

  31. I’m one of those… walkers. In fact, I take tiny wee steps, then crawl, and finally walk before running and jogging. And to be honest, it is not working so well.

    I do get jealous of those around me who seem to get everything going on for them- even before they know what the hell they’re getting themselves into!

    But, people like these, who plunge into the work they decide, “Ok. I’ll take this on, no matter what!” are absolutely the kind of people who learn the fastest, and grow the biggest, and get the biggest treats, and all the proper acknowledgements- and me- the ever cautious one, will end up trailing in their dust.

    So, I respect those who run before you walk. It’ll take some time before I can catch up with them!

    The whole world is moving so fast, there’s hardly any time to walk anymore.

    I love the posts here. Jogging seems like a good idea.


  32. I guess it depends on whom that person is.

    There is a group of people whom appreciate building their foundation stronger, and enjoy the process of learning itself, hence they may opt for learning to walk before they run.

    There is another group of people whom appreciate results, the thrill and satisfaction of risk-taking, and may opt to run before they walk.

    Qns is- which group of people do you belong to?

    – oneheart

  33. I think sometimes you need to run and fall to run faster then fall again then go back to start and run even faster. Be prudent and you’ll eventually get there, be a little reckless and you’ll get further.

    • I am with you on this one. I am a strong believer in running and never stopping, but this has also caused me to lose a lot of money.

  34. I agree with Joe – I don’t see much value in walking, just running as hard as you can as long as you can. Inevitably you will have a few missteps along the way, but that’s kind of all part of the fun of owning a business, right?

    • Yep, it is a learning process. I like to keep on running and if I fall, I just get back up and start running again.

  35. That makes sense…I think I’m at that stage where I should be doing walking, even though I’m a guy that likes to RUN 🙂 Maybe I will meet in the middle and do a fast walk

    • You need to run. It seems like you are walking a bit too slow right now. Run and your income will increase faster. 😉

  36. I want to start running, I just can’t find where to run… I guess having a blog is a start, I recently bought a domain, got a wordpress theme, now just need to get hosting.. wich I’m saving for right now.

  37. I am a chinese student. I’ m going to give a speech titled “walk before you run”, and now, when i’m searching on the internet and reading this article, I GET quite confused and don’t know what i should talk about…

  38. Cathy Young :

    well, yr idea of running is ok, but I think learning to walk before u really do something is rather necessary, and u said u lost a lot of money at the beginning, I think it’s actually already been a part of yr walking process, it;s just u didn’t realize it. hope no offense~~

    • No offense at all, I appreciate your input. For some it just depends on the different scenarios that you come across.

  39. in my opinion walk before running is overrated, if someone tells me that i just quote alfred, “why do we fall? so we can learn to pick ourselves up again”

  40. Hello Neil ,

    Your this formula is true that walk is very necessary before run , Because it very necessary that you should know the loop pools of any bussiness because going in the same.

  41. This is a great topic. I too started out running and probably “spending” more than I should have in the beginning. Sure a few lessons were learned along the way and I definitely had some failures.

  42. yes, walk before run

  43. I too started out running and probably “spending” more than I should have in the beginning. google

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