Last Thursday I launched Plan Lab marketing plan software. It teaches you marketing while you write a marketing plan to power your business towards your sales targets.
I’d heard so much from people that had launched products about iteration, pivoting and learning from the market to continuously improve, but it wasn’t until i launched it that I truly understood what they meant.
Going into launch week, I was really confident that the market will love it and that over time, it will prove to be a big sales hit. Launch day came around, Plan Lab went live and I spent the day feverishly refreshing my analytics and sales dashboards to see what sort of exposure it was getting.
A few people contacted me out of curiosity and asked about Plan lab. Keen to see what they thought, i arranged test accounts, gave them free access and waited nervously for their thoughts.
The reaction was mostly favourable but offered some valuable advice. In summary it’s good but too niche to be truly wonderful for most of my market. Primarily this came from the fact that most of the learning through the cloud-based software is delivered via text. The feedback was that more diagrams and visual learning tools would make it all easier to absorb and learn from.
It’s 5 days since Plan Lab launched and in another 5 days, these new features will be added. bFor me, the lesson is to not sit still once the product is launched.
Head over to Plan Lab and see what it’s all about. Who knows. By the time you’ve read this and clicked through, we might have improved on it yet again!
In the next fortnight I’ll be releasing Plan Lab online marketing plan software. I started development back in February, logging onto freelancer.com, posting a description of what I wanted to build and then choosing a developer from India to make it happen.
Along the way I’ve learnt a hell of a lot. These are the 21 most important lessons that I’ve made in development, business, entrepreneurship and project management from creating my first product.
- Building a consultancy when you’re great at your profession is easy. Building a product isn’t.
- Developers just want to get paid.
- The majority of Indian’s don’t value the importance of design and the user experience.
- If they say “it is clear” after you explain something to them, it usually isn’t.
- If it’s a 3-month project, expect 6-9 months.
- You’re to blame for most of the time delays.
- Compromise on some of the little things in order to launch. Just work out what is truly little in the scheme of things.
- They’re comfortable with building something ‘average’. Either way, they get paid and it’s probably less work than building something truly great.
- Expect them to be great at traditional development skills. Don’t expect them to be on the cutting edge of modern standards.
- Outsourcing development overseas still represents amazing value and it’s hard to look past it if you’re building a minimum viable product.
- Be willing to take control of the things that truly matter.
- Treat them with respect. You’ll get a better product, have more fun do it and you won’t be a tool.
- Good luck getting personality out of them. I’ve drawn one laugh in 6 months of joking around with our developers.
- Try as hard as you can to have them ‘buy in’ to what you’re creating and help them to recognise what’s truly important to your projects success.
- You’ll have 1 or 2 headaches explaining things. Resist the temptation to bash your head against the desk. Sketch out your thoughts, explain them and show examples of similar concepts.
- Do some forward planning and show them where you’ll be improving the product in the future. It will save a lot of headaches down the track.
- No matter how many businesses you create, they’re all gut wrenching.
- Building passive income is liberating.
- Get out of the office when you’re dreaming it up. Most of my creativity came at the beach, running laps or lying by the pool.
- Build what you would want to use yourself.
- Creating something is fuc*ing awesome.
NOTE: #secretproject is not the product name. The real name will be revealed in the next 14 days.
Over the past 18 months i’ve been slowly working towards launching my first product (my brand of cachaça and my leather Macbook sleeves never got off the ground). It’s been a learning journey to say the least.
I had the vision for my #secretproject when I was planning Engage Marketing 3 or 4 years ago. After so many months of bit-by-bit planning I finally jumped in head first and told myself if i didn’t accept that it wouldn’t be 100% perfect, it would never get off the ground.
That realisation led me to go out in search of a “kick-arse developer” (my words used on the project description). Since then I haven’t looked back.
To be completely honest, i don’t know whether this product will be a commercial success on the scale that i had originally hoped. That’s not for a lack of confidence in the product. I’m ridiculously excited about the opportunities that #secretproject will open up for it’s buyers, but as you go along, life gives you a few knocks and tries to dent your confidence.
What i do know is that i’ll learn a hell of a lot and that alone will be worth 50x more than what i’ve put into it (i also expect triple figure revenue – just not the Aston Martin DBS-sized profits that I had dreamed of as a teenager).
Launching #secretproject, I hope to learn:
- How to get maximum value out of working with overseas developers.
- How to create a turnkey operation.
- To back myself in larger ventures.
- Agile management skills and techniques.
- Continuous innovation.
- That launching is half the battle.
Have you got any tips for me or comments on the learning value of trying to launch something new? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on Twitter (@MikeFromEngage).