The phrase ‘f**k it, ship it’ is widely known in tech and software circles, but it can be valuable to bear in mind in almost any creative scenario. Let me display this point in a quick story about GymFuse in 2014…
Daniel and myself received our official ‘certificate of registration’ through the post. This was it! All we had to do now is create a website and people would come flooding in, right? Wrong.
After doing endless hours of self gratifying research on websites we finally agreed upon our favourite. A sleek one page parallax site that had some really cool animations and features. To our surprise and delight the website was owned by web designers, result! After numerous Skype calls we were clear of a brief, now it was a case of paying the invoice and patiently waiting. 6 months later the final product was ready and we couldn’t have been more excited, this looked so cool, we were about to be swamped with customers, surely.
Learning a lesson
A week went by without a peep, maybe this would be harder than we expected. Eventually after some semi-successful marketing we began receiving enquiries, YES! But now there was a new problem, potential customers wanted to order samples before proceeding with a custom order. In our excitement we hadn’t considered building an online store function into the website. Six months and thousands of £’s later, the practical problems were only just starting to appear through talking with real potential customers. We realised our perspective was totally out, we built a product that looked great to us but without any customer feedback and testing. Looking back with hindsight, we could have launched an MVP (minimum viable product) in 2/3 days for free on a site such as WIX and iterated from there. An expensive lesson and one that we’ve tried to keep in mind ever since.
Let’s summarise the errors we made:
- Presumptuous about what the audience would want/need.
- Insistent upon version 1 being ‘perfect’.
- Far too slow to get real world feedback
Takeaway lesson: customer feedback is the only thing that matters. Reid Hoffman the founder of LinkedIn famously said “If you’re not embarrassed of your first version, you shipped too late.”