How is it possible to throw yourself into launching a business, when you already know that your business idea sucks? If ever there was situation rife with conflicts of interest in validating a business model, then being co-founders in a startup is a good example. The founders' may get so committed to their vision that they can lose the ability to examine it from an objective perspective, and they may get caught up in groupthink.
A startup is an experiment and the goal is to explore and discover a sustainable business model. This requires a change of orientation in the mind-state of the entrepreneur. The commitment and focus should not be to prove yourself right. Rather the goal should be to find the best way to deliver the vision to customers, in a manner that customers find valuable. Entrepreneurship can be considered a great calling if the ultimate goal is to provide lasting value to customers and to make their lives better. If the focus is on this more universal goal, then it becomes easy to throw yourself into launching your business, even if your starting assumption is that your business idea probably sucks.
There are actually parallels in science and social science, which are important to highlight. Experimental social scientists run their experiments and data analysis, on the assumption that their hypotheses suck as well. They use more complex terms such as the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis. The simplest way to describe the null hypothesis is to call it the default position or status quo. This is the hypothesis that whatever intervention you are designing will not have any effect on changing human behaviour as it currently is. In a startup that means that your business idea will not have any effect in changing customer behaviour in a manner that will allow you to have a sustainable business. The alternative hypothesis on the other hand is your proposed idea or research hypothesis (e.g. teenage males find shopping stressful).
When doing research, social scientists thrive to ensure that there is no bias in the data collection methods. As such, they always begin by assuming that the null hypothesis is correct. They assume that their alternative hypothesis sucks, and the focus is on eliminating as much doubt as possible. When the research data is collected, scientists then perform what is called null hypothesis testing. They examine the probability of observing the results in the data assuming that the null hypothesis is true. That is, assuming my hypothesis sucks, what are the chances of observing the findings I have. Notice here that the burden of proof lies on the scientist demonstrating that their results could not have been obtained by chance, if one assumes that the null hypothesis is true. Such an orientation focuses the scientist away from a confirmatory bias into a developing falsifiable hypothesis and assuming they are wrong from the start.
The goal is never to validate the alternative hypothesis (i.e. your business idea), but to reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis. Even when the data shows that the null hypothesis might be wrong, scientists are still tentative in fully embracing the alternative hypothesis. This is not to argue that there is no bias in the practice of science. There are some examples of such bias. However, in terms of a cultural focus, the normative approach is for scientists to assume that their ideas suck. Scientists don't find this disheartening or discouraging. Our commitment is to a greater notion of discovering the truth about the universe. This commitment drives the actions scientists take and the high standards of evidence.
In a lean startup entrepreneurs should always assume their ideas suck. As Steve Blank always says, "no business plan survives first contact with customers". We should know this and embrace it. The quicker we fail to reject the null hypothesis and pivot away from our stupid ideas, the more likely we are to succeed in business. When pursuing the greater goal of providing real value to customers, assuming the null hypothesis to be correct will save us from building stuff that nobody wants.