Everyone has ideas & plans.
The difference between you and everyone else, I hope, is that you will act. You will create. You will go past the initial ideas and move towards the more critical part—the execution of the plans and the realization of the ideas.
But if you haven't started yet, I'm going to guess why you've been held up. I'm an expert—not only because I've been held up before, but because I work with a lot of product developers. So I've seen this particular movie a few times.
Reason One: Fear
There are a lot of potential reasons you haven't launched yet. But I'm guessing that the first and core reason is fear.
I think Steve Maraboli says it best, “Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.”
Whether it's fear that your boss will blame you for poor results, or fear that you'll never find new customers, the important thing to recognize is that the fear holding you back is completely under your own control.
Years ago my team and I got a contract to partner with American Express to build a solution for their customers. It was a huge project and we had three of us in development. Three people. I was terrified to even accept the contract. Thankfully I had partners who had less fear and were willing to sign on the dotted line. The result? We were the smallest company (at the time) to have a contract like that. Had it been my choice we might have missed the opportunity.
What that suggests, or I hope it does, is that you should surround yourself with people who can help you step past your fear.
Reason Two: Perfection
“But that's not how Apple does it.” “That's not how Amazon has their site.” In the world of web development, I can't tell you how many times I hear people compare their projects to things that Apple or Amazon does.
That's when I have to politely explain that the client has neither the time, staff or budget that Apple or Amazon has.
What's really going on is that they can see something better on the horizon. So if they wait just a little bit more, just a tiny bit more, maybe they could add more features to their site before launching. The result is a site that never launches.
I worked with a company once whose site was constantly in development. It never launched—in over two years of knowing them. There was always “one more thing.”
If you're going to compare your product to those that are already in the market, make sure you're comparing apples to apples. Compare budgets, efforts, and staffing. Or better yet, don't even compare. Simply recognize that the perfection you're looking for could also end up hurting you just as much.
Several people have been quoted as saying, “If you're not embarrassed by your first version, you waited too long to launch.” I agree.
Get your product out the door. More importantly, build the system for getting products out the door, so that you can do it regularly.
Reason Three: Impostor Syndrome
Am I writing to myself? You bet. I'm working, right now, on two plugins, two books and one new site. Of course I'm freaking out.
- “No one will buy these things.”
- “No one will read the new blog.”
- “There are other solutions out there already that are way better.”
- “Why am I even doing this?”
Do you hear these thoughts in your head? Or is it just me?
Thankfully, over the years, I've learned to use the fear and insecurity I have to drive me forward rather than to hold me back. And that's the core of the issue. I'm not saying I don't have the insecurities anymore. I do. All the time. But I've turned them into fuel.
Are you holding back from a launch simply because you've decided that your insecurities must hold you back? Because they can propel you forward just as easily. After all, what's the worst that can happen? Everything you've already been dreaming of. And you haven't died yet.
So channel the energy that is getting used by your insecurities into the effort you need to get launched. Get it out there.
Reason Four: No Marketing
I know that sometimes you spend so much time building your product (whether it's a course, a membership site, a theme, a plugin, or an e-commerce site) that you forget, until it gets close to launch time, to worry about marketing.
Should you be creating a funnel to build an audience before you launch? Yes.
But what if you haven't? No trouble. Seriously.
I know you sit there wondering how to get more people talking about you. How to get articles written about you. And so you may decide to do some spammy stuff. Don't.
Instead, work on those first five customers. Then get testimonials from them. Learn their stories. Create their case studies. Those will be the compelling stories that you share with others when interviewed or when talking to prospects. Because those results, from their stories, will be the marketing you need.
And those five happy customers? Well, they'll also be your initial marketing.
So don't worry that you haven't built up a huge marketing engine. Just worry about the first five customers.
Reason Five: Pricing
As I've said before, “Pricing a product is a moment when all your insecurities show up.” Pricing is hard. And knowing what to price your product can be so stressful that you haven't launched a new product in years.
I have worked with companies that have a core product offering and even though they know new additional “add-ons” that they could sell back to the base would be great, they don't do it. Not because of the technical challenges of developing a new product. Simply because they worry that the pricing on the new add-ons (assuming they price them right) will mess with the pricing of their cash cow.
So pricing and fear put them into a frozen position.
I've written an introduction on pricing products that may help. But even if you don't read it, know this—getting external help on pricing is always a good idea. It helps you step away from your own insecurities.
I'll be honest with you—every time I write a post, I'm also writing it for some version of me (present me, or future me). I'm right there with you. I know how hard it is to get things out the door.
My encouragement is a message from Nike: Just do it.
And the good news is that there's nothing so bad that a re-launch can't help. That's advice I learned from the CEO of Airbnb.
If you launch and no one notices, launch again. We launched 3 times.
— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) May 15, 2016