As a quick followup to my last post on “Finding Problems”, here’s another conundrum I see many entrepreneurs struggle with: We spend a lot of time, energy and resources on the first version of our product. We pour our heart into making it, interview potential customers, tweak the user interface, hone the user experience — all with an aim to build the “perfect” product.
And as admirably as this is — more often than not, the first version of our products fall flat. Customers don’t get it. They use the product in ways we didn’t anticipate. They find the “killer feature” useless but love that one weird, little thing we initially thought shouldn’t even be in the product.
The simple truth is that we often don’t really understand the problem until after the first time we implemented a solution. Chief of Staff of the Prussian General, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, once said “no plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force”.
With that in mind you should prepare. Fully expecting that our first version will, simply put, suck, we can free ourselves from the erroneous notion that the product needs to be perfect (or even great). v1 should be your attempt at rapidly accelerated learning. Thus you have to make sure you have all the tools in place to measure customer engagement and capture customer feedback. And be ready to iterate quickly.
As Yoda once said (maybe):
“Plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow.”