This story starts with a local startup company that failed…
Today, when I try to go to either website the company once ran, there’s no sign of life.
One simply gives you an error. The other redirects to a domain reseller, trying to sell you this startup’s previous domain at a ridiculously inflated price.
The company was founded in 2012.
It received, from what I can tell, $700,000 in investments to build its web platform.
At one point, I used to see the founder and his lead developer coding away, in a local co-working space. Day in, and day out.
I’d asked. Turns out when I first ran into him, he’d been developing this software for more than a year already.
With zero customers. In fact, he hadn’t even really tried to sell it to anyone yet.
It wasn’t ready. When it’s ready, they’ll want it.
He was sure of it.
I asked a bunch of questions. The software itself had nothing to do with the financial publishing business. However, it was meant for a customer base I knew well, through financial publishing: investors.
I tried to get an idea of what it did. Why it was superior to other options. What unique advantage it would give me in the market. What strategy it leveraged that would help me make more money from my investment portfolio.
I didn’t hear anything that I could write a promotion about. (He hadn’t asked me, either — this was simply casual conversation.)
This thing will never sell.
I wished him best of luck.
It played out about like I expected. He sunk another year or two into developing it. Still not sure whether anyone would ever care about its launch, or the feature set he’d decided it needed.
It came out.
It floundered. Today, the social media that’s not shut down has been silent for over two years.
This is a great example of how NOT to achieve your biggest goals, faster…
Now, let’s look at what it takes.
This post was inspired by a video, shared by Ken McCarthy, that I first saw via Jonathan Dune.
Work to publish…
I’ll link to the video itself at the end of this post. And it’s worth the 11 or so minutes to watch it.
It’s a presentation from a Co-Founder and the CEO of Patreon, Jack Conte.
In case you’re not aware, Patreon is a crowdfunding site for content creators, where you create content (art, etc.) and your patrons pay you based on your output.
And just for reference here, while that local startup got $700,000, Patreon has collected over $100 million in investments. But more importantly, it has traction.
At the beginning of this year, they’d sent over $100 million to creators. They keep 5% of all money collected on behalf of their creators.
And they’re growing fast.
As of the middle of this year, they had over 50,000 active creators on the platform, as well as 1 million monthly patrons. And they were were on track to send over $150,000,000 to patrons. I imagine that’s grown.
Someday, those investors who sunk $100,000,000 may get their money back.
Because Patreon proved they have a product people want, and they keep building it to suit market demand.
And I think it’s in no small part to the attitude shared by their CEO.
In the video, he talks about how he used to create music and try to get it to “finished.”
Now, there’s a lot of meaning piled up in the word “finished.” It’s something that’s as good as it’s going to get. Something that needs no improvement. Something that’s your best, and is, as such, a representation of your value.
And when it comes to creative work (including your next marketing campaign), that’s a curse.
Instead, aim for published.
Conte goes on to show how many of his biggest heroes in art and business were massive PUBLISHERS, and seldom put much emphasis on finished.
This echoes a concept I first heard from Dan Kennedy in 2009…
Dan is regularly asked how he’s so productive.
A ton of different newsletters, products, articles, books, and so on. All to his name. All out on a regular basis. All on top of a client copywriting load that would make lesser mortals scream.
Dan then explained how one particular client project, involving a pile of different pieces of marketing collateral, written and formatted for direct mail, was to be completed in about three days.
Heck, many copywriters wouldn’t have that work done in three months.
Dan explained it was because of a concept called “the GE spot.”
And yes, he was being slightly controversial with the naming.
What does GE stand for?
But good enough to test. Good enough to see if it generates some response, and is worth either A) investing more effort in polishing up or B) going back to the drawing board or C) dropping completely.
Dan emphasized that you can spend weeks or months — even years — trying to make a sales letter, a product, or anything else you create PERFECT.
And, it never will be.
Instead, you have to aim for good enough. For run of the mill projects, we’re talking 90%. For something important, maybe 95% or 98% “finished.”
It’s that last few percent that will kill you. Once you have reasonable competence at your craft, you can get most projects 95% of the way to perfect in about 10% of the time it would take you to get it to 100%. Because there’s always room to improve.
You’re far better getting it out into the market, and letting them tell you what they’re excited about.
And if they find a “bug” — fix it then.
This echoes the mantra of the world’s most successful software startups…
Get it publishable… Get it to good enough… Make it work…
And then put it into the market.
Get feedback. Get market response. And then take your next step, and your next.
Facebook, for years, ran under the motto “move fast and break things.”
It was only after they became a public company that they had to be careful about what was allowed to be broken, and for how long.
Will you have embarrassments? Will you have failures? Will you have to apologize?
Will there be moments where you realize you shipped too early?
Should you still make sure you get it to a point where it works and does fundamentally what you say it’s going to do?
But if you’re not putting things out, with regularity, you will not get any response at all.
If you’re not TRYING things, putting yourself out into the world, you’ll never get noticed.
So, if you want to achieve your biggest goals faster, learn to ship things when it’s still uncomfortable.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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