Guy Kawasaki wrote a great book a few years ago- The Art of the Start. One line really stuck with me- “Don’t worry, be crappy”. He also stressed the importance of shipping product. I couldn’t agree more. Don’t worry about getting your product or service perfect- just get it out the door. Europeans are famous for tinkering things to death and analysis paralysis. Just get something out the door. I’ve been putting together a cycling business- 700x23c. Is it commercially ready? Nowhere near. Is there a blog to start generating relevant traffic to my domain and give me keywords to start analyzing? Absolutely. Is the design perfect? No. Do I care? Nope. I’ll fix it later. Will it be perfect ahead of a commercial launch? No, it’s a hacked together Amazon Associate business right now. Did l I launch with an ugly website- Yes, I did. I’ve already changed it several times. (And luckily, everything relating to bicycles, except for Rapha’s website, tends to be dead ugly.) Will all of this change over the next few months? You better believe it.
Shipping product is your 2nd most important milestone (after fundraising)- again, straight out of Guy’s mouth. And I agree wholeheartedly. And the next Big Milestone you’ll reach is Profitability.
Let’s think about *the* recent success story- Facebook; Facebook was a complete skunkworks project designed for Harvard students. Nothing was big or glamourous originally- but it existed. The founders got a product built and out the door. They started to worry about features and what to do with it once it was in the wild. They also changed the concept significantly after launch, which I cover in the next post- Innovate and Iterate.
But before you worry about that, you’ve gotta launch your product. And if you can launch long before you go anywhere near a VC or Angel, the better.
In case you’re wondering why 700x23c is just a blog vs a commerce site, that’s because after I set it up, launched it and ran it for about 6 months, I recognized that it didn’t offer anything unique to customers, so I killed the project (I had a set amount of funding for it), and reverted it down to a blog based on cycling. I’ll do something cycling related with the URL in the future, but for now, it’s just a blog. Key learnings from the experiment were: Magenta is a good ecommerce platform, payments integration is *tough* for the little guy and in ecommerce, you’d better have a very good value prop. Rapha, as highlighted above, offers a unique product that you can only get from them. I’m still toying with the idea of custom tires- but getting radials manufactured is a little more complex than getting jerseys sewn together…. it’s still something I’m keeping in the back of my mind.