If you’re focussed on shipping products, you need to go for it. Stop
You will never win if you never begin.Helen Rowland
So in this article, I’ll share three reasons that prevented me to start shipping product in the past.
Voltaire once said something that packs together a big problem that a lot of entrepreneurs, product creators, makers and developers come across:
Perfection is the enemy of goodVoltaire
When I look back, a lot of things could have been approached better.
So let’s dive into a couple of lessons learned that help product creators to get out of the pre-shipping zone. And prevent you from throwing away a lot of hours for, well, nothingness
I get it. Really, I do. As a developer for over 15 years, all I ever wanted to do is to create.
First I started building websites, then I learned myself to build mobile apps.
It was in the smaller scoped (but nonetheless hard) projects that I got on the jazz for building stuff from A to Z. From mobile idea to writing out specs and wireframing. From building mockup screens to coding the app and releasing it.
It was then, and only then that I felt like I had “what it takes” to create products that others could enjoy.
But you know what? I never shipped a single d*mn thing for myself until the last 5 years.
Now, let me elaborate on three of the main reasons that prevented me to ship product.
? Giving It Less Than It Deserves
First, I worked on my personal blog: www.eekay.nl. It helped me to enforce my career. It helped me to make me visible in a tough and crowded market full of developers. But monetizing it never worked.
Because. I. Didn’t. Put. In. Consistent. Effort.
And it cost me. Dearly.
I put in a lot of effort. But because I didn’t come through with my schedule and ship content every week or so, monetizing my blog never became reality.
Sure, it helped me to become visible. And I’m sure it was the main reason that I got so many job requests via LinkedIn. But it never got to the full potential that a blog has.
Consistency truly is key.
Consistency truly is key. You really need to keep pushing in consistent effort if you want to get something ready to ship. Or when you want to grow an audience. Both for product development or reaching out to an audience, you need to keep working at it.
Read more about how consistency pays off in depth in this blog post.
??? Lesson learned: If you want to monetize what you say. Whether it is creating content, an eBook, advocating some topic, whatever.
Put in the damn effort and show up to give it the effort the idea deserves. Doing less will not get you over that tipping point. Making your efforts far less effective.
Nobody wants a perfect solution. They want a working one.
? Hiding Behind The Creation Proces
For a developer – or any maker for that matter – creation gives joy.
You type in some words and syntax and compile it into an executable thing. Or put it online for others to find it. You created something. Which is magical somehow. Dopamine levels rise when you hear “wow, that looks cool” from your friends.
But putting your stuff out there. Shipping it, and getting real feedback from those unknown users. That is where the true value lies of creating.
Shipping is also the scariest experience for a developer. Unless you’ve done it many times.
It took me a lot of time to admit to myself that most of my side-projects never did see the light of day because I was afraid.
Afraid of finishing them and getting negative feedback. Or worse. No feedback at all.
And I get it. You need to stand firm in your shoes to have the guts to start shipping products and be vulnerable to feedback. Contemplating about what you’ve reached so far – as explained in my post on Imposter Syndrome – might help to give you a little more confidence.
Nobody wants a perfect solution. They want a working one.Edwin Klesman
??? Lesson learned: Don’t hide behind building something. Learn to live with the fact that if you want to build to ship, you need to ship. There is no guarantee that your product will take off. It will most likely crash at the end of the runway.
Try to learn from it what you can as soon as you can. And then build a better project.
??♂️ Don’t Combine Goals For A Side-Project
I recall how I once wanted to build a side project and also wanted to learn a new framework at the same time.
It was naïve of me to think that it would be good for me to use a new tech stack. Learn something and build something profitable in one get-go. If one wouldn’t succeed, at least the other goal could be reached.
Now I know that the chances of building something profitable are slim.
But doing so with tools that you haven’t mastered yet only makes those chances even slimmer.
Figuring out what brings value to your users is a big enough challenge for any product that you build.
The need to overcome technical / learning skills will prove to be a burden. One that will distract you from fitting your answer to a problem.
The product I was building was a landing-page for IRL Airsoft games over multiple weeks to learn Angular alongside it.
You read that right: it wasn’t even a web app. It was just a landing page. But even a landing page could be the goal when you’re working towards shipping product.
I put it online but it never got any attention. Reaching out to instances and players got me zero response. I learned me some Angular though, which was the positive side of it.
But my primary goal was to check if my idea would resonate. And although coding as a solution to validate an Idea is possible, it truly is overhead for the purpose.
I now know that setting up a website was a poor way to start doing that (reach out directly to users or resonate with others before writing any code!).
Using new tech to create that even worsened the fail since it took me too long to get to the validation step. Oh boy, what a waste of time that was.
Nowadays, I click together a landing page in a couple of hours with online SaaS tools like www.carrd.co.
??? Lesson learned: Either do a side project to learn something new or to ship product. Combining both goals is fatal from the get-go.
I really recommend to check out this book by Paul Jarvis called “Company Of One“. It talks about focussing on providing value and keeping it small instead of growing into another Giant Corp.
Think hard about what the main goal of your effort is. If you want to ship product, you need to focus on that.
And don’t add extra goals that might distract you. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Also published on Medium.