There are far too many assumptions being made about data. Too many people are just taking it for granted that data is the answer to successful investing and businesses. I think a lot of people would be surprised by how much of it is random guesswork and intuition.
As an entrepreneur and investor, I take a lot of chances and bet on a lot of things. You never know which choice is going to be next big thing, which one is going to make your dreams come true. Because the truth is, you can’t use data to figure out what the next big thing is because it isn’t the next big thing yet so there isn’t any data. Seems like an obvious statement to make, but hey. It must be said.
Look at my twenty year career, and you’ll realize that most of it has been guessing, and, I’d like to think, predicting where the market is going to go. There was no data on what e-commerce would do in 1996 when I launched my online wine retailer. There was no data on email marketing when I was one of the first hundred people using it. There was no data on what Instagram was going to bring us in value when my brother and VaynerMedia co-founder AJ sold Brisk Iced Tea an Instagram campaign.
That was only thirteen days after Instagram launched.
Even more recently? There was no data around Vine celebrities when I launched my Vine talent agency 110 days after Vine launched. But now the platform is all about them.
Of course data still plays a role. I make these predictions, but then to actually keep the momentum going, you need to pay attention to the data. Running a business takes numbers. Solid numbers.
But be prepared to take leaps and jumps into the unknown when you’re first starting out. Try not to be too cautious. Follow your gut. Who knows? You might find out you have a pretty talented gut.
The bottom line really is this: you have to take chances and put yourself out there, and you’re not always going to have the data to back it up. Period. Not every decision is going to be safe. And that’s okay. Life is about those decisions. The more you make, the more options you have. The more options you have, the more you grow.