When you are getting started, you may be tempted to build a complete business that will scale to thousands of customers right off the bat. You may be determined to have the perfect product developed and all of the supporting systems, such as customer service software, marketing automation software and book-keeping software in place, before you do your initial launch. Resist these temptations. While it is never a bad idea to think about future goals, your initial goal is not to showcase a perfect product or grow a large business. Instead, you should be focusing on doing just enough work to validate your idea by creating a proof of concept and making sure that it is something that customers want and will pay for.
Don’t Build the Perfect Product Prior to Launch
It is a natural desire to perfect your product or service before you let any customers see it. You will want to make sure all of the features you want to include are in place and that the product has been polished and fine-tuned to your liking. After all, you only get to make one first impression. However, if you wait until your product or service is absolutely perfect, you will probably never launch because you will always come up with new ideas to improve your product or service. And ultimately, building a product that is nearly perfect in your eyes is not the point. You need to switch your point of view and look at your product or service through the eyes of your customers. You do not always know how people are going to use your product or service until you actually have them start using it. Save time and money by receiving feedback from your customers on your concept instead of building out features that they do not need or want. You may end up having to redo major portions of your product after you have received feedback from your customers. You may even realize you have built something that does not solve a problem for your customers and have to start over.
When I first started offering Analyst Ratings Network’s free daily newsletter, I compiled it by hand for the first several weeks. It was only after people started subscribing, reading the newsletter, and providing feedback that I took the time to have it sent out in an automated fashion. If I had done the work to automate the newsletter delivery right away, I would have had to redo significant portions of the source code to change the newsletter to the format that best fit the subscriber’s needs. By validating the idea first, I was able to make sure that I was building something that people actually wanted before spending a bunch of time and money on software development.
Solve Problems Only When They Are Actually Problems
Another temptation as you get ready to launch is to set up large and expensive solutions to take care of problems that are not actually problems yet. You should only solve problems in your business when they become problems. When you spend too much effort early on in your business focusing on far-off problems, you are wasting time and money that could be spent on things that have a more immediate impact on your business. For example, you might go out and get a dedicated server at the cost of $250 per month with a web-hosting company so your Internet business has the capability to scale to tens of thousands of users per day. However, you can probably get away with a shared hosting account for $10.00 per month with a company like DreamHost (www.dreamhost.com) or Web Hosting Buzz (www.webhostingbuzz.com) for the first couple of years. You can make the switch to a dedicated server after your web traffic outgrows your shared hosting account and you will have eliminated a large monthly expense early on in your business. Another example would be setting up a customer service system like ZenDesk (www.zendesk.com) right away. Just use your personal email address until it is no longer manageable. When support actually becomes a problem, then you can put your money and efforts into hiring a customer service person and setting up a customer support system.
- Decide what the minimum software and services are that you will need to take your product or service and sell it to your customers.
- Create a proof of concept product to validate the idea before building out the full product or service.
- Solve problems only when they become problems.