Execution is what separates the men from the boys.
The ability to implement ideas, to put them into action, is what will set you apart. Seth Godin writes extensively on the value of actually “shipping”, pushing out your content in front of real life people who will actually consume it. I couldn’t agree more.
Here’s a personal example of me implementing this value. When the Miley Cyrus Wreaking Ball video came out, I really wanted to join the ranks of thousands of other people making parodies of the video.
With no budget and little know-how, two friends and I set about making a parody of our own, which had to be done in miniature because of technical constraints. We spent an afternoon filming, two weeks learning to edit it, and $5 on Fiverr for someone to sing the song. Here is the result, in all its glory:
This video is crap, I know. And I’m glad I published it.
We hopefully made some people laugh, which was the point. We earned over 2,000 views which is better than half of all YouTube videos. It inspired me to create an awesome back-story website. And I got additional experience in marketing videos, writing press releases, and getting media mentions.
We both know you have ideas that you’ve been waiting years to implement.
There are many great ideas out there. It is implementing them that is hard.
An idea or unfinished project, no matter how awesome it is, is worthless if it doesn’t touch other people. Better something half-assed that actually has some effect than having no impact at all because you are waiting for the perfect moment.
Newsflash: the perfect moment never comes. The key to starting to ship to address the different excuses you have come up with to not do so.
Your Four Excuses (and why they are wrong)
There are many reasons why people don’t ship their ideas, creations, and products. I’d like to address these reasons one at a time:
1. Your inner perfectionist.
Probably the biggest reason many people don’t launch their venture or implement their idea is because it is “not ready yet”. That blog post, that script, that proposal. They are not perfect.
And I say, publicize them anyway.
There is a part of you that is afraid of failure, success, and rejection. All at the same time. And this voice whispers to you “you can’t publish that! you will fail/succeed/get laughed at! Wait until it’s perfect. Yet a hundred times out of ten, your article never reaches that stage.”
The reason? That’s just an excuse, to avoid the perceived negative responses that actually publicizing your work might lead to. “Better to have an incomplete project on your shelf than a completed one that fails,” says the voice.
And I say, destroy this voice. Publish before you feel ready. There have been many articles and projects that sat “unfinished” in my folder. When I revisited them with more artistic distance I was like “heck, this is good enough. There may be room for improvement, but I don’t have the time/patience/desire to make those changes.” I published those posts as they were, and nobody died.
So don’t be afraid to slap the words “the end” to the end of your unfinished work, declare it done, and “ship” it.
Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, says: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
2. People might steal your idea.
A lot people come up with great ideas but are afraid to share them with others because they are afraid that people will steal them. Although there is room for caution, I believe most of these fears are unwarranted.
I won’t go so far as to say that ideas are a dime a dozen, but there are many great ideas out there. It is implementing them that is hard.
Most people are not walking around waiting to steal your ideas. Most people are not capable of implementing a fraction of their own ideas! The true key to success is the implementation of an idea, and it is you, with your passion and belief in the idea that are the most likely and most suited to overcome the challenges that come with any idea to idea to fruition.
3. But what about my reputation?
Your reputation isn’t that great anyway.
Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, says: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” I hold these words to the highest esteem, and they apply to this entire article, but particularly to this point about reputation.
I have seen entire organizations freeze out of fear that a product is “not up to their standard”, and spend a year of bureaucratic back-and-forth taking an idea from 90 to 100% completion.
There are several issues with this. Firstly, for multiple reasons, reaching “perfection” is the stage that takes longest. You can go from 0 to 80% completion in fraction of the time it takes to fully finalize a product. Secondly, the pursuit of perfection, especially in an organization, often results in the “too many cooks” syndrome which actually drags the product down.
Again, I espouse the value of launching less than perfect products that will ultimately be far more profitable to a company in its imperfect form than if it sits on the R&D table for another year. (I am not referring to industries that involve risk to human life or well-being such as medical, aeronautic, or car manufacturing, where obviously the margin of error has to be as close to zero as possible; I am referring to most industries that don’t have these risks.)
In a future post, I hope to explore the fascinating paradigm where all positive responses can be amplified by you and all negative responses squelched; which means you have very little to lose. But in the meantime, remember: No one cares that much about what you are doing that they’ll drop what they are doing and make fun of you or ruin your business.
This article wasn’t finished either. But look, it’s published!
And by not publishing your “unfinished” work, you are missing out on a third key benefit of going public:
One of the key benefit that is often spoken about by founders of successful startups is the value of gaining feedback from actual users. That is why in the startup world it is perfectly legitimate to launch Beta versions of their products to collect data about user experience, bugs, and suggestions for improvement.
I would suggest that other industries become more open to this concept. People are forgiving of mistakes, especially if you are open about the fact that a product isn’t perfect yet. You stand to gain a lot of valuable insight, advice, and feedback from anyone who consumes what you’ve created (of course, what you choose to actually change is up to you, there are lots of people who don’t know what they are talking about and shouldn’t be giving feedback.)
So without further ado, go ahead and ship. As Itzik Yarkoni, a personal friend and founder of BOMAH, a social media consultancy often says, “Yalla!” Which is the briefer and more Israeli version of Nike’s famous “Just Do It”.
So go ahead, and just do it.
P.S. This article wasn’t finished either. But look, it’s published!
Are there any projects or ideas that you aren’t shipping because of the ideas above? Let me know, and let’s get you going.
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