Always be Shipping

The last few months have been absolutely mad and it all comes down to one difficult change that I have made to the way I do things.

Always be Shipping is a mantra I have started to follow.  It means that I’m focused on finishing things and putting them into the market as quickly as possible – even if it’s not perfect or has  features missing.  Test the market with a real product or service and then revisit and improve the experience later.  The benefits have been shocking.

Over the last couple of months I have started and finished roughly 8 different software products.  They are all now in production and the ones that are for sale have been selling.  The more I do the easier and more comfortable the process becomes.  Each product is a chance to test a bunch of new ideas and evolve the code to include new features.

There are many skills that go into releasing a software product.  There’s the programming stuff,  server stuff, then there’s websites, graphics, and perhaps video or sound recordings.  If you get all that done there’s still the other half of the work involved in finding a marketplace to put it in and arranging for payment methods, and all the marketing and promotion to make sure people can find out about it.  Each task poses a risk that it could de-rail a project.

Shipping is the inflection point where you can take a break from product creation and start to find ways to bring money in from all that work.

There are two things to be aware of that can prevent shipping a product

  1. Focus reducing the scope and limiting feature creep.  There are so many great ideas to implement but being able to cut back on things so that there are a manageable number of difficult technical objectives before it’s ready to sell it critical.
  2. Being familiar with the process of shipping so that you know what needs to be done and how to do it efficiently enough that it’s not so tedious you avoid the work.  Ship your products regularly enough that it becomes routine.

It is a real rush to have something for sale that you can check the stats on every morning.  Read the reviews, test ideas, run sales, and compare revenue models.  It is exciting and as addictive as gambling.