There’s a common trend I see among entrepreneurs that is bound to kill the startup before it gets out the gate: perfectionism. I’ve fallen victim to it myself. You find yourself in this endless loop of continuously improving your product before releasing it to the public.
You find problems with the product, beta users tell you things that are wrong, you try to improve the product, and worse of all, you spend all your time soliciting feedback without charging a dime. I met with a startup the other day that has spent over two years developing a social media dashboard for large corporations and they were still in this endless cycle of perfecting the product without charging anybody.
After watching entrepreneurs succeed and others fail, there’s one consistent pattern I’ve seen from the successful ones: they get their product out early and start charging. I remember watching the early days of one company that recently sold for hundreds of millions of dollars. I always wondered to myself how the company could succeed despite having a product, that in my eyes, was sub-par.
The answer turned out to be straight-forward: they learned on the customer’s dime. At the same time they developed stronger relationships with the client by integrating their feedback into the product. It was a win-win situation. My main conclusion is this: if you have a product that you eventually plan on charging for, stop waiting, charge now.
The customers that are with you early on will stay with you because of your perfectionist instinct. That’s exactly why they’ll start paying before you’ve perfected the product.