You Should Ship Now (not sooner, or later)

I shipped YNAB Basic…

–When it was a spreadsheet celebrating the color spectrum of the rainbow.

–Before the Four Rules existed (they were actually in there, I just hadn’t discovered or articulated them).

–Before I knew a single thing about web design.

Taylor and I shipped YNAB Pro…

–Before we had ever met in person.

–Without doing any betatesting(!).

–Without the ability to have multiple accounts.

We shipped YNAB for iPhone…

–Before meeting the developer (Sebastian, our iPhone guru) in person.

–With the bare minimum of acceptable features (some would disagree here).

When Facebook launched, they were only available to college students.

When the iPhone launched, it was only available on the Edge network (and, at the time of this writing, it’s still only available on AT&T — after several years!)…didn’t have multi-tasking…had a 2.0 megapixel camera…

The Hardest Part

The hardest part about starting something is shipping. It’s so easy to refine..”perfect”..and never actually push anything out the door.

You never actually call a potential client and try and make a sale.

You never put up a “Buy Now” button for people to purchase your idea.

You just sit there and refine.

What’s Holding You Back?

Some big roadblock related to the human condition?

Set an unrealistically close deadline to ship. Hit that deadline.

With YNAB 3, it was 2010. I think we shipped…some time in December of 2009. By the skin of our teeth. Taylor was literally working 18-20 hours per day for weeks. Despite superhuman effort, we still made some concessions. The app was slower than we wanted (a pleasure to work with now though!), and we had to drop features that still haven’t made it into one of the later iterations (goals, drag and drop moving of money between categories, error-checking for on/off-budget accounts, and many others).

Deadlines work. Set one and hit it. Launch with errors. Launch with bugs. Launch with less than your moving-target ideal. Just launch it already!

The Advantage of Shipping Now

Two HUGE advantages come to mind if you’ll just ship now.

One, you’ll learn in an instant what you should be working on next (and it probably wasn’t what you were going to spend the next six months working on!). You’ll discover areas of improvement right now — making your next iteration even better (multiple accounts in YNAB — what a novel idea!).

Two, you’ll be motivated. I am oh so grateful to that first person that purchased YNAB in its ugliest form of existence. Although I had to refund their purchase (they were on a Mac and it wouldn’t work for them), I knew I had something that at least one person was mildly interested in (which meant there had to be more!).

So no, nothing about YNAB 1.0, or 2.0 was very pretty. Sales were slow, but just enough to keep me motivated to work on it further. Just enough to make me want to devote free-time hours to this little “side project” (the goal of the side project being to pay our $350/month rent payment).

Launching will amp you up more than reading about launching.

Publishing will motivate you more than reading about how to be published.

Shipping will teach you more than reading about shipping (stop reading this–go ship!).

I’d rather ship a dozen products “prematurely” than never ship that one product still on the road to perfection.