A few months after selling our company to Silverpop, they asked us to build a series of new products. We were thrilled with the opportunity. We had a backlog of product ideas and we knew they would all be home runs. We quickly launched the first product to much fanfare including issuing the requisite press release. But, guess what? The product did OK. It was’t a disaster, but it certainly wasn’t a home run.
What went wrong? Why weren’t there more sales?
We re-grouped, talked to customers and brainstormed with colleagues. These led to new hypotheses that we used to build the next product which launched a few months later. And, guess what? It flew off the proverbial shelf. What did we do differently? I wasn’t sure at the time. Maybe, we built a better product. Maybe, we did better customer development or had better marketing.
Or maybe, it just took time to figure things out.
Entrepreneurs are Impatient
As entrepreneurs, we’re naturally impatient. We expect results immediately. For the most part, we start a company because we know we can do things better and faster. In my first startup, I expected to launch our product and have hundreds of customers almost overnight. It didn’t work like that. Startup success takes time.
Startups are a grind. It’s a grind to experiment, to launch new features and products, and to try new ways of acquiring customers. These all take time. Good customer development helps to accelerate the cycle but it doesn’t eliminate it.
But don’t take my word for it. Every entrepreneur who has had startup success talks about the grind. Dragon Army’s Jeff Hilimire and SaaS expert Jason Lemkin are in different sectors but have similar points of view.
Building a product from prototype to revenue to profitability always takes more time than is originally projected. As an entrepreneur, know that you’ll most likely go through a series of false starts. It’s par for the course. Stick with it. Enjoy the ride.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Spotlight series where entrepreneurs share insights from their startup journey useful to other entrepreneurs. If you have startup story to share, submit it here