You can spend months working on a business plan, creating all types of projections and then spend even more time working on an actual product before launching it, only to find out your idea is rubbish. This was me 12 months ago.
Having previously built a mildly successful productivity application, I thought I had it all figured out. I was ready to start tackling my next business. Instead of just starting small and simple, I ignored all of my own advice and went into “stealth” mode spending the next few months working on a massive product.
Fast forward to today and that product has yet to launch, and never will. I spent more time planning, than actually executing. I can now chalk it up as a failure. I’m annoyed at myself for wasting that time, but relieved to know that I learned a valuable lesson about launching a business.
I now run a completely different company, which thankfully has launched, and now sees over 3.5 million visitors each month and growing. Its Pen.io.
Pen.io didn’t take months to launch. And didn’t even start off with a business plan. It was a weekend idea that took less than a week to build. This is an important point – it could have taken months to build. Instead I opted to strip the idea down to its very basics and launch just the minimum viable product. I could have polished it more. I could have worried more about its business model. But I didn’t. I just launched it.
An Invite to Launch
When you get an email from Jason Calacanis inviting you to his conference, you accept it. Even if you’re on the other side of the world like I was. Its an opportunity – take it. He had seen my product and liked it. So I took the invitation and went.
I was incredibly nervous at the Launch Conference. Everybody else seemed to have products that were way more complete than mine. I had only spent a week building it prior to launching, and then a further sleepless week trying to improve it once I got the invite to the conference.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t of been nervous. It wasn’t the app or the even my idea that was the most valuable asset. My strongest card was the simple fact that I’d taken an idea and executed on it. Sure it was a good idea, and it seems obvious, but if I hadn’t spent just a week building it and launched it right away, I wouldn’t be at the conference in front of hundreds of people and I certainly wouldn’t have taken out the Best Design Award.
It Could Be Your Weekend Idea
Think about this – that idea you thought of last weekend, could, in a weeks time, be a business.
Sure it takes months to work through getting a company incorporated and sorting out financing (if you go down that road) and all the other legal shenanigans. But they are just the small details in a much bigger picture.
If you strip your idea down to the very basics, there is nothing actually stopping you from launching within the month. You have so many available options – from launching a kickstarter project, creating the next must have gadget, to using a print on demand service to launch the beginnings of a clothing empire. In this day and age, it costs so little, across pretty much any industry, to launch a minimum viable product.
The Hardest Part
The hardest part of your journey is not going to be the little legal details or figuring out a precise marketing plan. The hardest part is having the courage to launch your idea, putting it in front of an audience and getting criticism and feedback. But think about this, I could have waited and built a more complete product, but now I have 3.5 million reasons that have validated my immediate launch.
My advice to any entrepreneur: Just launch it.
Anthony Feint is the founder of Pen.io.