What project of yours has been “in the works” for way too long?
Why haven’t you launched it yet?
For over two years my team and I had been working on one of our biggest projects to date and although it was “technically” ready about 8 months after we started, something held us (cough, cough, me) back from getting it out to the world.
This took way longer than it should have so to save you from the same struggle, here are 5 steps I discovered to finally get over the “hump” and make forward progress.
5 Steps To Launching Your Next Project
1. be your own customer
After conceiving the idea for a new customer support desk, our team went right to work. We made a lot of progress early on because we were creating our “dream solution”. Since our WishList team responds to hundreds of customer inquiries every day, we knew from experience what we would want in our “perfect” support desk.
The same situation occurred when we launched WishList Member. Initially we designed it for ourselves and now over 40,000+ online communities and membership sites are using it.
When you create a solution for others, you have to do a lot more research. When you’re your own customer, “get- ting going” is easier because you just start with what you personally want.
Bottom line is this; be your own customer and you’ll make a lot more progress in a shorter time frame.
2. stop creating & start using
Within a few months we had a working beta version and a few months after that, we had our branding, site design and essentially a finished product. We called it RhinoSupport.com.
Technically, we could have launched a “public beta” then. Instead, we decided to be ultra careful and take it slow (some would argue against this but for us, it was the right decision). However, we did start using it ourselves which gave us a great opportunity to begin refining the product.
It’s VERY easy to get caught in “feature creep” thinking that you can’t start using what you’ve created until you add “one more feature”. You and I both know that’s often a load of crap and it’s just another form of procrastination. At some point you have to start actually using what you’ve created.
Our first step was moving the support desk of WishList Products over to Rhino Support (RS).
Given the volume of support we provide on a daily basis for WishList Member, this proved to be a wise move as it forced us to develop a system to help companies make the transition from their old help desk solution over to RS. We were our own guinea pig – and therefore our own best critic.
Truthfully, we likely wouldn’t have put that much thought into a transition feature but it became very obvious just based on our own hesitations, that we had to do something. If we were gun shy about making the move, others would be too.
Now the development was being driven more by actual need versus a “dream list” of features. Those insights only come from using the product. So the sooner you can begin using it yourself (and that doesn’t mean running “tests”), the better.
Some will argue that this insight is better gained from actual customers. Personally, I disagree.
I think it’s better to take a little extra time at this stage by using it yourself to get the vast majority of the kinks worked out. It’s a much safer (and less stressful) environment.
Most importantly, you’ll feel better and more confident to move on to the next step if you have taken a little extra time during this one (and forward progress is the key).
3. share it with friends
– but only if they will use it
From my experience, people rarely value things they get for free. We naively made the mistake of giving access to RS to a bunch of people who showed a mild interest, but then they didn’t use it at all (which is of no value to us – or them).
As such, we’ve found the most valuable insights will come from those people who are willing to actually use (or pay) for your product.
Too often people are “interested” but not “committed”. That doesn’t help you. You need people who will use your product or go through your training as though they were a paying customer. You want to learn from an actual “user”, not someone interested in looking at it.
You’ll make more progress and get more insights from users (not beta testers).
For example with RS, one of our friends extensively used a feature that gives you the ability to have multiple companies in the same help desk. That wasn’t a feature we were using in our WishList business so his experience gave us a ton of insights.
It pays to get close group of friends (you can trust to give you honest feedback) to start using your new creation. Remember, you’re not looking for someone to “test” what you have but rather someone who has the exact need you’re looking to solve – and will therefore use the product regularly.
(These people also make MUCH better product evangelists when you do finally launch because they can share their experience using the product!)