The true power of shipping
Real artists ship.
– Steve Jobs
After I released Live Editor File Manager into private beta, my relationship with the product changed quite a bit. I can attest that putting your product live and letting users in is one of the most powerful and vulnerable things you can do.
Of course, much of what I am able to describe will have more impact when you experience it for yourself. I hope that sharing some lessons from my own experience will inspire you to make the leap and put your idea out there. Don’t spend all your time setting up your GI Joes. Ship it.
Embarrassment will drive you to do better
If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.
– Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn
As soon as I put my code into production, I hated my product. I immediately experienced one of those “life flashing before my eyes” moments where I could see 200 different things that I wanted to improve.
As I drafted emails to trusted friends with their logins, I was embarrassed that Live Editor couldn’t do certain things yet.
When I received responses from my friends with a list of problems that they encountered, I was humbled.
One thing that I can say about these seemingly “negative” emotions is that I was energized to start improving. Once your hard work is released into the wild, you don’t want to waste another moment with it in an imperfect state.
The negative feelings that you have can be a positive thing if you let them be.
It’s easy to get into this comfortable place with your project by seeking perfection. I just need to spend one more week to add feature X or improve feature Y, you tell yourself.
Yes, some of these decisions are entirely valid. But those “one more feature” moments delay you from the riches of actually putting your product out there.
Remember: perfectionism is a process, not a goal. If you like being perfect, nothing will drive you to be perfect more than releasing your product in an imperfect state. Believe me.
You cannot anticipate what your problems will be after launching
I spent a good part of last year imagining for there to be a small wave of new customers shortly after releasing File Manager. I anticipated that my some of my time would immediately need to be sliced into addressing customer support issues. That is part of the reality of building software.
For some strange reason, I worked myself into this pretty strong state of fear over this. How would I continue to work on the product while answering so many emails and spending so much time on the phone? I realize how silly this sounds.
So far, this fear of mine has not come close to being a reality. I can only recount two times that I’ve had to work with people on fixing problems. I’m sure having a higher volume of support issues is coming, but it’s probably farther in the future than I can even guess.
I actually wasted a lot of mental and emotional energy worrying about this. Kind of like how programmers will sink a lot of time trying to “future proof” their app so it can handle millions of users, only to be lucky to see a dozen users on launch day. Stop it.
Just get something built and worry about problems of scale later, when they’re actually problems. I know it will be a problem later as my role shifts from technician to entrepreneur. But it’s not a problem now.
Time to take action
It’s been my dream to get into the world of content management. There is a long road ahead of me, but I’ve taken an important first step by releasing Live Editor File Manager. The year of hard work that I’ve put into this actually means something now as people are starting to use the product, and I can’t wait to keep getting better and better.
What can you do to get your product good enough? What features can you put on the shelf for now to just get something out there? These are questions that I’ve been learning to ask myself more frequently as I work on the next wave of features.