April 12, 2019

My challenge is over and I lost... or not?

One month ago I decided to spend one month for building the very first version of my new product.
I had in my mind that I can work approximately 5-6 hours.
I created a list of all the features I want to implement for the month. I estimated each requirement and calculated the sum - totally it was around 120 hours. I thought I would be able to finish it earlier if I would work 5-6 hours in a day. The reality was I managed to spend only 4-5 hours, sometimes even less.
Another problems were:

  • I expanded the list of features
  • I spent the whole day on the feature I didn't include at all.
  • The more I coded the more bugs I created
    As a result, I didn't finish all the features. I need at least 2 or 3 days to finish.
    I want to run the product as soon as possible but I even don't have a website (only a domain :))
    I don't want to rush, else it will be too, too rough :) (The product is pretty big, therefore, buggish, BUT as for I'm not proud of it, it's time to launch (Reid Hoffman (C))
  1. 6

    Having spent a better part of the last 2 decades building software products, I must say that for you to finish a month-long sprint with only 2-3 days time budget slippage is a very good result, especially for a brand new product.

    Here's how I would think about the next steps:

    • Identify the next set of "absolutely critical" goals and figure out how they fit into your overall strategy: is it "get the first X customers using the product"? is it "gather feedback from a trusted audience"?

    • Break down those goals into tasks

    • Put everything else on hold

    • Put blinders on and go straight for the "finish" line

    • Cross the "finish" line. Take a break. Look around. Figure out the next "finish" line. Rinse. Repeat.

    Hope this helps.

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      finish a month-long sprint with only 2-3 days time budget slippage is a very good result

      Heh, I had to rebuild my total mentality to get this result. A month ago I started my day from reading emails, browsing IH and other stuff. Now I do it only when 2-3 half-an-hour periods are done (5-10 minutes between periods when I do some exercises, manage household, play with my dog etc.)

      Here's how I would think about the next steps:

      Right.

      I agree but... I'm afraid that as for the product is kind of rough and doesn't have many features it can look ugly for many potential users. The same time I want to get some feedback.

      I'm really puzzled how to gain these things together :)

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        I'm afraid that as for the product is kind of rough and doesn't have many features it can look ugly for many potential users

        Did you hear this from more than two actual potential users?

        If yes, then you know what to do: work on making it “not ugly”

        If no, then go out, find a handful of potential users and listen to what they tell you.

        If you get potential user’s opinions and they say nothing about “ugly”, then you know what to do.

        2 things:

        • lower your expectations waaaay down before you get actual concrete data

        • assume that there are an infinite number of potential users out there

        To make it psychologically easier to gather this sort of feedback, do the following thought experiment: assume that 99% of potential users find your software unusable and will never ever become actual customers. You are not losing them, because you have never “had” them. Then ask for their honest feedback and listen without reacting or getting defensive.

        Last thing: did you read the IH interview with the author of Keygen, the part about not having the admin UI? What does that story tell you?

        1. 1

          Did you hear this from more than two actual potential users?

          Of course, not :)))

          If no, then go out, find a handful of potential users and listen to what they tell you.

          Yeah. This is a plan.

          Then ask for their honest feedback and listen without reacting or getting defensive.

          It should be a hard part.

          Another hard part is to find potential customers at all. I mean 90% of my previous products stupidly didn't have customers. I hope this time it will be slightly different...

          Last thing: did you read the IH interview with the author of Keygen, the part about not having the admin UI? What does that story tell you?

          No, I didn't. But I will, I think it may be valuable.

          But you know what. Inside myself knows 99.99% of what you are saying. The funny thing is I know everything in theory but in practice, I'm getting much more stupid :) stop thinking :) can't get that all these rules and approaches are applicable to me and my product too!

          Thanks a lot for reminding me things that I heard approx 1,000 times but still challenging to apply them.

  2. 1

    Welcome to the software building. For every feature you implement, you add another. And as the other commentators stated, only needing 2 to 3 days more is pretty damn good planning.

    I on the other hand have been off by months. Luckily im actually releasing my app in about two days (again probably a huge understimate, to be more exact - roughly a week)

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      For every feature you implement, you add another.

      That's right!

      app in about two days

      This is really cool! Which is your app about?

  3. 1

    You started, meaning you already won :) besides, most time estimates are usually under-estimates so you did well

    1. 1

      Mine was underestimated too :))

  4. 1

    It seems to me you did pretty well to get as far as you did.

    It's a challenge to define your MVP and stick to it. Adding features is probably the biggest problem for all product creators, especially those working alone because you don't have somebody to pull your back. There's no accountability and you want to push the best product you can.

    I would relax a little about it. Put the time into finishing the product, if the website is critical then build it but prioritize getting your first users above all else and iterate from there.

    I don't think you lost at all.

    1. 1

      Thanks!

      I'm trying to stop rushing and relax, not easy though :)))