As a startup founder, do you make sure your product is perfect before releasing it to the public? Or do you release a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time product, and iterate as you develop traction? If you wait too long to release your baby into the wild, competitors might beat you to market. Do you take the chance of appearing to be a copycat or do you focus on building a world-class product in the hopes that your superior product will win out? Should startups launch an imperfect product? There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself to determine when the time is right to stop tweaking and just ship it already.
– Is the product or service you’re offering reliable? Will initial users be impressed enough to continue to use and share your startup or will inconsistencies in performance send them scurrying to your competitor. You only get one shot at creating a first impression. If you are not 100 percent sure as to the reliability of your product, you might want to hold off on launching publicly.
– If your offering is less than perfect, can you release an early version to beta testers and use their feedback to iterate? Not only can beta testers help improve your product, they can also be an early indicator of your potential traction rate. Instead of succumbing to analysis paralysis, you might be better off jumping on the beta train and seeing whether your locomotive is capable of picking up steam.
– Ask yourself if your product truly is less than perfect, or are you suffering from feature creep? Are you over-analyzing your startup’s features, when in fact it might be exactly what customers want in its present form? Depending upon your monetization strategy, those features you’re attempting to build in now could be premium features at a later date. Don’t underestimate your customers’ willingness to pay for extra bells and whistles.
– Should you look at releasing a less-than-perfect product as an opportunity to grow from the feedback of your customers? Early adopters love helping shape the progression of a product. By forming a community around your early users, you not only provide them an opportunity to help develop your offering, you grow a team mentality toward building a better product.
No one but you and your startup team can determine if the time is right to say “to hell with it, let’s just launch already.” Mentors can offer their insight, but the final decision is up to you and your team. Take a step back and review your responses to the above questions. Your gut instincts will tell you whether it’s time to just ship it already.