A little while ago I had the great pleasure of hosting Guy Kawasaki for Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program (here’s the full video of his excellent talk).
Before he went on stage I told him that I read his first book “The Macintosh Way” years ago and really enjoyed it. His reaction wasn’t quite what I expected: He smirked and then confessed that he is embarrassed about his first book as he finds it immature and badly written. Immediately after this comment he looked at me and said:
“If you’re not embarrassed (with hindsight) about your first release, you released too late…”
His point is valid. Only by putting yourself out there, but getting your product in front of people, by risking to embarrass yourself, will you gather the invaluable feedback which will ultimately shape your product to become what it is meant to be.
That is not to say that you should risk your company’s reputation on your first release. There are many ways to mitigate this risk — release to a limited number of customers. Release in a small(er) market. Slap a big “beta” on your product (Google is the king of this). But you have to get out there. As the old military doctrine says: No plan survives contact with the enemy.
Release early, release often. Be willing to take risks and become embarrassed. Who knows? Maybe one day you will be on a stage where you can tell the moderator the tale of how embarrassed you are about your first release?!