Since quitting my investment banking job to start Treatings, the mantra “perfect is the enemy of done” has been chanted in my ear. Grizzled (mustached) startup veterans have warned of the trap of delaying product launch in pursuit of perfection, only to realize you’ve been building something people don’t want.
Sounds logical, right? Of course you suck up your pride and release unpolished products. Better to get quick feedback and iterate accordingly than release a beautiful app no one wants. I quickly realized how hard it is to embrace speed over perfection.
First, I had to forget what I learned in investment banking. Perfection was demanded (although never met) in the 80 page pitch decks we churned out. As lowly Analysts, we operated out of our PowerPoint bunker, sliding the deliverables under the door when completed. Let’s just it wasn’t iterative and “minimum viable product” wasn’t a term embraced by my bosses.
This quest for perfection wasn’t all that hard for me to overcome with Treatings. I quickly discovered that it’s not building a minimum viable product that’s difficult, it’s exposing it to public scrutiny. In my previous job, I never had to really stand behind the bullet point monstrosities we created because Analysts were rarely brought to client meetings.
In hindsight, the process of opening my Twitter account should have been a warning sign that I might have trouble systematically releasing early prototypes. I agonized over crafting my first 140 characters, imagining that you’re only as strong as your weakest tweet. Similarly, it was difficult to release our initial beta (which we later called an alpha, when realized that was allowed). In our minds, our prototype would be immortalized and people wouldn’t understand that even we weren’t content with the current iteration.
Each subsequent product release has become easier than the last, but it is still scary (note use of the word “release” rather than the more intimidating “launch”). The best thing to do is practice releasing imperfect work, whether it’s a tweet, blog post or web app prototype. Even now, I’m fighting the inclination to labor over each word in this post. So I’ll eat my own dog food and end here.
This post was originally posted on Medium