This is the ninth post in the series 12 Days of Ideas: Building & Marketing Web Products.
Illustrated by Krista Seidl
“Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
— Jeff Bezos, Bezos on Washington Post: ‘I’m Not a Magician’
Warning: this post involves a football analogy.
Succeeding in this industry involves a lot of waiting. We wait to launch a product until it’s ready (enough) for customers. Or, we’ve launched, and we’re waiting for traction. Traction achieved, now we’re waiting for funding. Now we’re waiting for the hockey stick of user growth. Now we’re waiting for press. Fame. Fortune.
It just takes so long.
“If your customers are saying you have something and you have some growth, then over time (possibly a long and challenging time), the math of SaaS usually works out in your favor.”
— Gail Goodman, Notes & Summary of Gail Goodman’s The Long Slow SaaS Ramp Of Death
A long and challenging time.
I try to remember that success isn’t an all-or-nothing, ‘you have arrived’ moment. It’s a matter of small degrees. There are distracting exceptions, particularly in this industry. We read and write endlessly about young, hot companies like Buffer and Snapchat, but these are outliers, distractions, showboats. They’re wide receivers snagging a ball thrown 40 yards downfield, making the march to the end zone seem like a piece of cake.
More of us are running backs. We take the ball and crash into the competition, searching for an opening. We fight for each and every yard. Sometimes we break through and sometimes we’re pushed back ten yards. If we can pick up five yards, that is success. The end zone is our destination, but it isn’t the sole indication of achievement. That’s easy to forget. We want to be great, immediately.
“The only path to amazing runs directly through not-yet-amazing.”
— Seth Godin, Overcoming the Impossibility of Amazing
The first version of a new feature will need improvement. The fourth version will need improvement. That feature may need to be shelved for a different feature. The new feature might not be received the way you thought it would. And on and on. A long and challenging time. Only one way to get through it.