Are We Ready? Will It Fly?
Questions along these lines are not just relevant; they are vital — as much in the SaaS products space as in wingsuit flying.
But while they prevent us from taking the leap before we can deliver, they can also seriously hamstring our confidence.
While I have yet to toss myself off a cliff wearing a flying squirrel suit, I can confidently say I have some first-hand, hard-earned experience when it comes to launching products.
Experiences that have rendered me cautious and, according to my wife, way too perfectionistic for my own good.
Perfectionism vs. Good Enough
I have spent my entire 2020 building and perfecting Flowmine, my latest contribution to the highly competitive and crowded market niche that is all-in-one solutions for small businesses.
Knowing how important it is to stack up against the competition (from earlier launches of the predecessors to Flowmine), I am also fully aware of the fact that my wife is right.
Instead of comparing my feature set with products that have been on the market for more than ten years, I should take a break and let these wise words by Reid Hoffman sink in:
“If you aren’t embarrassed by the first version of your product, you shipped too late.”
Eloquently and to the point. Let go of the safety blanket and ship it.
Which brings me to the dilemma:
The product I am launching is not yet as good as I know it will be. But the runway is only so long, and I need customers to validate my assumptions.
If you are a perfectionist in denial like me, this can be a tough pill to swallow. As developers or entrepreneurs, we want our brainchildren to be glorious.
We want our product to be perceived as the equivalent of the cool sports car to the left, with “doors that open like this ^^,” as Russ Hanneman put it.
And we fear the idea of our product coming off as the budget car to the right, even if it’s just an embryo of greatness in becoming.
But when you lie there sleepless at 3 AM and tune in to Radio Negative Self-talk, it is all too easy to convince yourself that you will crash and burn.
That you need another round at the drawing board.
I know, because I have done it myself. Under the pretense that this particular adjustment is a complete must-have that will only set the launch date back a week.
The Pride Trap
There will always be another important thing to fix to be able to launch with confidence and pride.
Especially if you keep listening to Radio Negative Self-talk. Or that smirky colleague that keeps bringing up the advantages of Trello and Slack in every conversation.
What we need is to come to terms with the fact that the initial version of a new product will rarely, if ever, stack up against products that have been out in the wild for 10+ years.
Even if you could afford to postpone long enough to get the product in shape to meet your standards, what about customer feedback?
What if you build the wrong thing — a product nobody wants?
Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. It is not a fun place to be in.
Just realize that you can’t satisfy everyone. It’s better to get the thing out the door and get some early feedback. Even at the expense of a couple of potential bad reviews or snarky comments on social media.
To paraphrase Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction:
The night of the launch, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.
Just Ship It
If there is such a thing as Cardinal Sins of SaaS product development, Waiting too long to launch is definitely on the list.
So. Take Reid’s advice. Listen to Marcellus. Ship it.
Trust in your idea, and know that this is the first iteration of many to come.
In Case You Missed It
The product I am referring to in this article is called Flowmine, an app that started off as a side project back in 2013. Check it out if you run a smaller business and need an all-in-one solution for project management, time tracking, and invoicing.