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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 16. Fucking Ship It Already: Just Not to Everyone at Once

Laura Klein

There is a pretty common fear that people have. They’re concerned that if they ship something that isn’t ready, they’ll get hammered and lose all their customers. Startups who have spent many painstaking months acquiring a small group of loyal customers are hesitant to lose those customers by shipping something bad.

I get it. It’s scary. Sorry, cupcake. Do it anyway.

First, your early adopters tend to be much more forgiving of a few misfires. They’re used to it. They’re early adopters. Yours is likely not the first product they’ve adopted early. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, go to the Wayback Machine and look at some first versions of products you use every day. When your eyes stop bleeding, come back and finish this post. I’ll wait.

Still nervous? That’s okay. The lucky thing is that you don’t have to ship your ridiculous first draft of a feature to absolutely everybody at once. Let’s look at a few strategies you can use to reduce the risk.

The Interactive Mockup

A prototype is the lowest-risk way you can get your big change, new feature, or possible pivot in front of real users without ruining your existing product. And you’d be surprised at how often it helps you find easy-to-fix problems before you ever write a line of “real code.”

If you don’t want to build an entire interactive prototype, trying showing mockups, sketches, or wireframes of what you’re considering. The trick is that you have to show it ...

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