In their book Rework
, entrepreneurs Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson ask: When should you put your product or service on the market? When is it safe to let people have it?
For Fried and Heinemeier Hansson, the answer is probably a lot sooner than you’re comfortable with: “Once your product does what it needs to do, get it out there.”
Imposing a deadline can clarify what’s a necessity, and what’s a luxury. Ask yourself: If you had to launch in two weeks, what would you cut out?
Fried and Heinemeier Hansson suggest that if you think about it, there’s a lot you don’t need on day one.
When they launched their company Basecamp, they didn’t even have the ability to bill customers. Because the product billed in monthly cycles, they knew they had a thirty-day gap to figure it out: “So we used the time before launch to solve more urgent problems that actually mattered on day one. Day 30 could wait.”
They also cite the example of the shoe company Camper, which launched its store in San Francisco before construction was finished, and called it a “Walk in Progress.”
The company displayed shoes on plywood laid over dozens of shoe boxes. Customers could draw on the walls of the otherwise empty store. The most popular message written on the walls was: “Keep the store just the way it is.”
Fried and Heinemeier Hansson acknowledge that this approach of launching before you’re comfortable doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. You still want to make something great.
The point is to help you recognize that the best way to get there is through iterations: “Stop imagining what’s going to work. Find out for real.”