Are you like Jessica? She’s a designer and aspiring entrepreneur, looking to offer web design services. She’s a perfectionist. It’s her 3rd month building her website portfolio. No room for error is her philosophy.
No one knows about her business yet. Of course, she wants to launch, but she still has qualms about her portfolio. “What if I’m not doing it right?” This is what she was always thinking.
Because of that, 3 client opportunities already slipped. More gigs are vanishing as she’s still building the “perfect” offer and launch.
Too bad right? She could have published a quick showcase on Behance and began working with clients already. She could have been gaining traction and earning money now. But she’s too busy building something that no one sees.
Jessica’s case will make you think about if it’s too early to launch your product or offer.
Is the best time really the best time?
You already have a product that isn’t out there yet. In the spirit of startups, let’s call it your MVP.
MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, stands for a product or offer with enough features to satisfy early customers. It’s your first version. It doesn’t have to be 100% complete because just like any other product, you can always have a version 1.1 and so on.
How do you know that you are ready to get your product out there?
Julian Juenemann of MeasureSchool starts with the end in mind. Last time he built a course, he pitched the product as a video. He got a few early pre-orders, which encouraged him to build the product in 4 weeks. Note that there was no product when he took pre-orders.
He wouldn’t have shipped as quickly if he didn’t get pre-orders. It’s the stakes of pleasing customers that pushed him to develop the product.
In hindsight, he had an intense 4 weeks of product development. It was painful, but was excellent for his business and personal growth.
2. Solid MVP
Your product or offer already has its core features. This means that when people use or avail of them, you can already distinguish if more people will need it.
Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, started in the business by taking photos of shoes sold at stores. He would then upload it on his website. When he receives an order, he would rush to the store to buy the shoes so he could ship them to the customer. No order tracking, no inventory and no owned store. From pure manual processing to a very well-known online shoe and clothing store.
3. Valuable Content
Videos about your product or offer can be worth more than a million words. It can explain what you are offering. Your offer may still be in its beta testing stage, but it’s ok to come up with content that will explain what your product is about.
Dropbox did just that. They created a short video demonstrating their intended functionality. The result? Signups increased from 5,000 to 75,000 almost overnight. The catch? There was no real product yet at the time of the video.
This shows that you can get people interested through content even if the product is not yet 100% ready.
4. Get Feedback
New products need to be tested. They also need feedback from those who have tested it.
You can start with your friends. Have them test your product and give their feedback. Treat them as a way to improve your offer. Your friends are you quality assurance group. They can easily share their thoughts and ideas on the product.
Not all feedback is good. It’s best to treat them constructively. Use the feedback to make improvements on your product. But retain those features that your friends love.
Very similar to testing. In this case, you can play around with different functionalities or core features. You can experiment as early as when you launch the product. Give it some time and check its status. If you see something that isn’t working, do something about it. Do these until you come up with something that is getting positive results.
Daniel Tay of Master Money, started rolling out their first experiment 6 weeks after they conceptualized their product service. The goal was to get 3 customers for a 6-month period. They sent out an engagement letter that explains the terms and conditions of his service. What potential customers would receive from getting his services. 3 months after the letter was sent out, they got 6 new customer sign ups. The experiment was a success!
6. Stop Being a Perfectionist
Of course everyone wants to ship a great product, who doesn’t? But there is no such thing as perfect. One way or another, a flaw would appear and you just have to work your way around it.
It is the same case with your product. Don’t waste your time perfecting the product that is on its early stages. Chances are, you are over-engineering it to the point that your customers won’t know what you are offering them.
As long as the core functionalities are up and working, you can already deliver the product. Just make sure that there’s place for improvement. Add a note that says something like “your feedback is appreciated”. Or “feel free to get in touch with us for concerns”. You are showing that you are open for improvement. And that you quality their input even after they have availed your product or offer.
Over to You
Don’t be like Jessica. Spending too much time building your offer and overthinking things leads to disaster. Once you have the product and is passionate about it, then you are ready to say, “Hello World, this is the solution you’ve been waiting for.”