Why is actually shipping your own product so freakin’ hard?

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Jumping Hurdles

Shipping my first (MVP) online service Getappvise.io is a milestone I will never forget. It is a satisfying first step of actually having shipped a product out there that fixes a problem I experience myself. Now, a few days after putting it online – and in the midst of promoting it – I contemplate on my learning path on how I got from “thinking about something to make” to  “actually creating and shipping a product”. Because, although Getappvise.io was made in a timespan of 3 months, it took me several years to actually ship something after deciding that I wanted to create a product.

The main question I was struggling with is one I can finally answer for myself:

Why is actually shipping your own product so g*ddamn hard?

I’ve had a lot of ideas in the last decade or so, but except for my first mobile app in the early iOS (I’m talking about that time that iPhone 3G was just released) era no idea made it into the big online world.

The biggest challenge did not come from the technical side – which I challenged after a couple of months self-learning with iTunes U and online resources. And most of the time there’s enough resources or people to get your info.
Neither was it the availability of the right hardware – standing in line for the iPhone 3G and buying my first Macbook fixed that too.
Having not enough time was an excuse also.  Shure, becoming the father of a lovely twin, switching jobs, moving… It all consumes time. But I have a wife that supports me and helped me out on the time issue so that wasn’t a valid reason as well.

 

So what was it that made me take so long before achieving the all famous status “Shipped”? Read about my reason – and more – after the break.

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Those before mentioned appeared to be the least of my problems. As it appears, my biggest challenge in general was:

Getting a mind focussed on creating and – more importantly – SHIPPING product was my key to getting result

The main reason for why I couldn’t ship a product? I just didn’t have the State of Mind;
I could not yet understand that building a neat product with awesome code (that no user would ever see) and creating fancy websites,cool wireframes or documentation were all just facades. Facades that were carefully created by my unconscious mind. Each and every one put in place with one goal: keeping me from actually creating something, building it and putting it online for everyone to see. The biggest challenge was that I needed backup from others – perhaps even approval – to see if what I was doing made sense.

During the last two years, I have come across more and more people, resources and writings that gradually helped shape my mindset into what it has become now, October 2016.
People like John Somnez who showed me that you have to create your own goals and work on your message in order to stand out of the herd of developers out there. Or someone like Matt Kremer who wrote a free eBook that opened my eyes on the MVP mindset; creating a minimum product that brings something to the table. For both you as a developer and the users.

Talking to and/or following people like Mubashar Iqbal and – my latest discovery – Pieter Levels who seem to be living product incubators inspired me to look into the dynamics that were common and most effective.

And I didn’t even mention all the Podcast resources out there, focussed on informing and helping you creating a startup or sideproject. My biggest inspirations are Steli & Hiten’s The Startup Chat and Seth Godin’s Startup School.

While these people, their resources, and mindset inspired the soft skills and moulded how I wanted to create and publish the technical side of things were all coming together like stars that are perfectly aligning.

Xamarin, Cordova, Ionic Framework, Angular JS, Gulp, Fountainjs.io, Yeoman. The tools needed to build up your own mobile app or SaaS product are all around us developers. They are more abundant, easier to use and more complete than ever before. Never had it been easier to setup a backend for your product – whether it is a cloud platform like Azure, Kii, Backend or Amazon Web Services. Adding services to send push notifications, setting up mailing lists, creating landing page templates, analytics, user recording, etc etc… It seems like selecting the right tools is becoming more of a challenge than actually using them.

The availability of all those  tools made clear to me that It doesn’t actually matter what tools you use. Just pick tools that you can handle and use them. I used to pick tools and frameworks so I got to learn them while making stuff. Although you can learn a lot from working with new tools & libraries it sure as hell doesn’t help you ship your product.

Working with new tools & libraries sure as hell doesn’t help you ship your product

So, when you ask me: what did you do differently with Getappvise.io?
The answer is a simple one* for me, after all, those years of coding around without shipping a product.
*: Please note: your mileage may vary.

For me the following “developer laws” helped me define, create and ship:

  • pick and solve a problem you experience firsthand
  • define the absolute MVP
  • use tools and libraries that you know, not ones that you have to learn
  • your goal is not to create worlds cleanest code; hack if you have to
  • communicate with your family on the effort that you want/need to put in
  • plan concurrent hour blocks of time (4-8 hours) in order to be able to code efficiently and produce results in a short amount of time
  • last but not least (my new credo): remember to code hard, but ship harder

I started working on my Idea for Getappvise.io in June 2016 by thinking about it during a vacation.
3 months later, just before the last weekend of September, I released the first version on the domain. I think 3 months is a realistic and good period to take for a project to go from idea to shipping since it is long enough to plan your daily stuff and short enough to keep track on everything and keep it in your focus.

For me, it isn’t just the first SaaS I’ve released. It is actual proof that I can think, develop and ship a product and solve a problem.

So, now it’s time for me to enjoy this milestone. But I also need to get going & wire my mind so it accepts that my journey is only just beginning with this product and that I’m only just in the game so I better start running with the ball.

Watch out for updates on this journey in future posts, and remember:

Code hard, Ship harder!

All done