When should you launch your business product?

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Nearing completion of your business product? Peep this: it's wise that you don't wait to refine your business product until it's "perfect." The problem lies in time. Lots of time. Time that could be spent trying to serve your customers better on other aspects of the project.

You Need Immediate Feedback

Most importantly, if you don't release your products early, you won't get immediate and valuable feedback to revise your product. Ultimately, it's not you who buys your product. So, get it into the hands of potential paying customers, get their responses through trial and error, and go accordingly. When we do our projects for clients, we know the first release is just Phase One. Like Microsoft and Google, or the many other heralded Silicon Valley software firms, we know the initial product--even though we did our absolute best on it--will need maintenance and revisions. We can't decide for our customers what those revisions are, unless we know psychologically how they approach the product.

It's Rare Fortune 500s Get it Right the First Time

Microsoft didn't get its Windows operating system right until the third try. The same thing happened with its Internet Explorer--and still happening with it to this day (Fortunately, they're resolving the issues as I speak). If the "biggies" can't get it perfect with their tremendous resources, it's a seemingly impossible task for us to get it perfect in our first attempt. Software company founder and BusinessWeek writer Vivek Wadhwa explains the cycle-cycle-cycle of releasing initial software products:
Software is typically created by smart technicians with superior vision. They pick a problem to solve, have a revelation from the heavens, and work day and night to transform their idea into computer code. Customers are usually blown away by the first version of the program -- until they start using it. Then they discover the program's most obvious features are missing, it's buggy, and it's prone to performance problems. Then about a year later, the techies come out with a second version, which is loaded with new features -- but customers can't figure out how to use them. So the product goes back to the drawing board. Eventually a third version appears -- and it works.

Does this theory only apply to software products?

Nope. If you have a restaurant, it will probably take three (or more) revisions of your secret sauce to satisfy your general customers. If you're a writing a book, it'll probably take several revisions to get it "right" to your readers. If you're a comic, you'll probably revise your sketch according to audience reaction until you're ready for the big time. Of course, you can't satisfy everybody. And, know that there's a fine line between "want" and "need". A lot of times people say they want one thing, but won't use it. The key then is to trust your instinct. Yet, without immediate feedback, it's impossible to trust your instinct. The moral: Get your product out there! Quickly.

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Posted on May 05

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