You’ve Either Shipped or You Haven’t

You’ve either shipped, or you haven’t. You’ve either poured weeks, months or even years of your life into bringing a product or a service into the world, or you haven’t.

If you have, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll have flicked a switched, cap deploy‘d, or flipped your closed sign to open, and just waited – holding your breath for whatever happens next.

And at that moment everything that’s wrong with it suddenly comes into sharp focus. All your copy is terrible, 30% of the features don’t do what people want, and another 30% aren’t actually useful. All the stuff that you forgot to include, let alone everything you dropped because you just didn’t have time.

You hit refresh on Twitter search a thousand times, waiting for someone to say something. You leave comments on blogs to say thanks to people who liked your offering, and you force yourself to close the browser window on those that don’t.

If you’re lucky, enough happens. Enough sales, enough users, enough nice words, that it all seems worthwhile.

And if you’re not, all the tradeoffs you made will turn out to be in the wrong direction, and all the bugs and issues that you hoped would be discovered by no-one will be discovered by everyone.

So you wear your learning smile, step back a bit, have a think, and work out what to do next.

But whatever you do next, you’ve shipped. You’ve joined the club.

And the next time someone produces an antenna with a weak spot, or a sticky accelerator, you’re more likely to feel their pain, listen to their words and trust their actions than the braying media who have never shipped anything in their lives.

Update: of course, the media is shipping all the time. I wrote some more thoughts, with the benefit of a day of sunshine.