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Thanks to the Miracle of 1.0, "Good Enough" is All You Need

Thanks to the Miracle of 1.0, "Good Enough" is All You Need

August 28, 2008

A new way of launching products to put you ahead of the competition

Quit trying to be so perfect when you roll out a new product. It doesn't have to be perfect!

Getting your ideas and products to market quickly and with as little investment as possible is your goal. I see too many smart entrepreneurs get caught up in trying to make sure they develop the product so it's perfect before they launch it. You don't have the time or money for that!

Get it out and then make the changes you need to make. I call it the 'Miracle of 1.0'. The idea is that you can get a product that's good enough for launch to market quickly. Then, take the feedback you get, make adjustments, retool and come out with a new and improved version later. Explain to your customers that you listened to their comments and developed a better product as a result.

'Ready! Fire! Aim!'

You've heard me talk before about how important it is to have a 'ready, fire, aim' approach to doing business or you risk falling behind your competitors. Sam Walton of Wal-mart made the phrase famous for his style of doing business.

In the past, CEOs wouldn't roll out with a product or business until it was perfect. But what happened? Huge amounts of time, resources and money went into building something that may or may not work. Even if it did work, it most likely had to be reconstructed, re-engineered or redone after learning what customers really needed or how it could be improved.

Walton changed that. He was a pragmatist, not a perfectionist. He understood that a project or idea would always be evolving so he instead tried to get an idea to market as quickly as possible and as reasonably done as possible. Then, he would make changes afterwards.

We see it all the time in the software industry. There isn't a software or video game that doesn't come out that's not a 1.0 first. We've come to accept the fact that the 1.0 version is going to be replaced by a better version later.

The 'Miracle of 1.0' is that you don't have to invest as much time or money in development and you can feel confident about the improvements you make because they're based on feedback from your market.

To me, the Miracle of 1.0 means that it's okay to fail within a certain limit. Testing and getting direct response from a live launch will always improve a product. It's ludicrous to think you'll understand the exact needs of your customers before your product hits the market. You won't know until afterwards!

Launching products with the 'Miracle of 1.0' is more important now than ever.

How to leverage the 'The Long Tail'

If you haven't already read Chris Anderson's book, The Long Tail, I highly recommend it. I just finished it and in a nutshell he talks about how our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of 'hits' at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there's now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers for a mass market. Today, with less constraints on shelf space, narrowly-targeted products and services in niches can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.

Do you remember Top 40 radio hits? They're virtually unheard of now. Just ask your kids. There are now top hits in alternative rock, heavy metal, rock, classic rock - and the list goes on. When I was growing up (I sound just like my dad!) there were only three radio stations or TV stations to tune into. The fact that you had to have enormous towers and technology to create a radio or TV show, created huge barriers of entry.

Thanks to computer technology and the Internet, you can record songs or create your own movie for less than $100 and distribute them on youtube.com for billions of people to watch.

Publishers also used to enjoy very little competition. Today, anyone can publish a book. You can go to resources such as lulu.com and print your own book on-demand and even use them to help sell your book for very little money.

What does this have to with the Miracle of 1.0? Plenty. With resources to develop video, audio, books, etc. you now have available to you a wide variety of tools that were only available to the largest and richest companies just a few years ago. Those same tools are now available to you at just a fraction of the cost. But what's holding most people back? They think it's too complicated.

Don't try to master the technology right away. Use the Miracle of 1.0 to learn it incrementally. Try a new resource and launch when it's 'good enough'. Then, rework it, improve it and launch it again.

As a small or mid-size business owner, you can compete at a much higher level than you could have previously. Because there is so much more competition it's critical to get your products out quickly and don't worry about whether it's perfect the first time.