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INTRO I can build any SaaS product, and make $ $, but I cant get through my own mind to the next level.

Jackmar

Contributor
Nov 18, 2018
8
33
22
Arizona, USA
Hey there,

I'm a 33yo software developer(self taught). I've been designing, building, rebuilding, websites and SaaS products for clients (and various full time gigs) for the past 7 years. It's good money. Really good actually, but there is so little freedom in building for others.

I have complete confidence that can build pretty much anything. Yet, despite my ability to build for others, I can't build anything for myself. I can build a product that crushes the competition, but the mind can be a strong foe, and skill is absolutely nothing without the ability to execute.

I've built, and built, and built, but I've never launched.

My story and how I've come to this place: (TLDR I know, just read the bold parts if you want to skip to the end)

Quit my 6-figure job:
About 2.5 years ago I quit my 6-figure job to travel the world and 'find my way'. Despite decent pay and a cushy downtown apartment, I was depressed and aimless. Money is nothing without freedom. So, I found myself some clients as a contract developer on the side who where willing to work with me as I traveled, and I quit. Honestly... it was AWESOME. Not only did I quit my full time and gain freedom, but I was able to take on much bigger projects with more responsibility and much more potential to learn and grow.

Became jaded with the whole 'work from the beach' thing:
Despite the initial awesomeness of working from a beach in southern Thailand, I learned an important lesson: "Freedom" is boring without a mission. (Not to mention the fact that I was not actually "free". Trading time for money on a beach, in the end, is not much better than trading time for money in a very comfortable chair in a climate controlled office with no mosquitos.)

Found The Millionaire Fast Lane and dedicated 5 months of my life to building a product out of a dirty $127/month apartment in Vietnam:
So, about 3 months in on my journey, I realized this was not what I wanted. I realized I will be unsatisfied and unfulfilled if this was the final destination. Through some googling I came across The Millionaire Fastlane. It changed my life completely right there on the spot. Now I was going to build a SaaS, and free myself from the bonds of traded time.

So I found the best way to stretch my savings so I could stop taking client work and focus on the product. I got myself a $127 a month apartment in Vietnam on a 6-month Visa.

I worked 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 5 months, researching ideas that fulfilled c.e.n.t.s , validating, designing, and bringing my product near completion. I actually worked so hard I ended up freaking out and having a full blown break down and ended up sedated in a Vietnamese health clinic.

Came home with a nearly finished product, and a year and a half later I have nothing to show for it:
At the end of 5 months... The parents were constantly pressuring me to come back (using my dog as leverage to bring me back). I was running out of money and had dropped all my clients. So back I came, with a nearly finished product, and here I still am, more than a year and a half later with a nearly finished product, working as a contractor.

I should have finished and launched more than a year ago. Something deep in my mind is preventing me from breaking through, theres some fear that distracts me and detracts me to want to build other 'shinier' products. Its so bad that I've now created 2 additional (smaller scale) SaaS products. Same story with all of them. Bring them close and then get distracted with a new shiny business idea.

Looking for some advice from the fine people on this forum:
The worst part is that I know my product can and will sell. The market is enormous and its a real, demonstrated business need (I actually have people in the industry contacting me regularly to check the progress).

It probably sounds crazy. It probably is crazy. I'm not sure its lack of commitment. I've committed my whole life to this. Perhaps there is a fear somewhere I haven't fully uncovered. Needless to say it's depressing to put so much blood and sweat in and be blocked by self doubt and hidden fear.

Does anyone have a similar experience? Any advice for pushing through these barriers?

Ive recently re-read TMF and it brought me here. The energy and and drive on this forum is amazing. Looking forward to learning and getting to know you all.
 

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Last edited:

Yzn

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Hey there,
I'm definitely not the person to advice you here but I would like to comment:

" I actually worked so hard I ended up freaking out and having a full blown break down and ended up sedated in a Vietnamese health clinic."

Honestly, I don't think this is a healthy way to get attached to anything. I mean life has so many variables that you can't control, so if one variable changes and you're so attached to the 'thing', you will end up in a bad state like you mentioned. So my advice is without sounding religious is to try and attach your hopes and focus on something that isn't within life, for some people God, for some others I don't know happiness or something else but something that isn't weak such as an idea or product or a project or a worldly object. Then you wouldn't be devastated if it doesn't work out like you pictured. Since that might be the reason behind your fear. The inability of something you planned for so long not to work out like you expected.

"The worst part is that I know my product can and will sell. The market is enormous and its a real, demonstrated business need (I actually have people in the industry contacting me regularly to check the progress)."

You should just launch it. Even if it's not 'fully' ready as you really want it to be. Then with the people's feedback on your product, you can then re-adjust, and the improvement could be more straightforward than this feeling of overwhelm that a part of our 'perfectionist' brains might have - that everything must be perfect from day 1.

Anyway I hope you figure it out and become successful with your product. Good luck.
 
OP
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Jackmar

Jackmar

Contributor
Nov 18, 2018
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33
22
Arizona, USA
Hey there,
I'm definitely not the person to advice you here but I would like to comment:

" I actually worked so hard I ended up freaking out and having a full blown break down and ended up sedated in a Vietnamese health clinic."

Honestly, I don't think this is a healthy way to get attached to anything. I mean life has so many variables that you can't control, so if one variable changes and you're so attached to the 'thing', you will end up in a bad state like you mentioned. So my advice is without sounding religious is to try and attach your hopes and focus on something that isn't within life, for some people God, for some others I don't know happiness or something else but something that isn't weak such as an idea or product or a project or a worldly object. Then you wouldn't be devastated if it doesn't work out like you pictured. Since that might be the reason behind your fear. The inability of something you planned for so long not to work out like you expected.

"The worst part is that I know my product can and will sell. The market is enormous and its a real, demonstrated business need (I actually have people in the industry contacting me regularly to check the progress)."

You should just launch it. Even if it's not 'fully' ready as you really want it to be. Then with the people's feedback on your product, you can then re-adjust, and the improvement could be more straightforward than this feeling of overwhelm that a part of our 'perfectionist' brains might have - that everything must be perfect from day 1.

Anyway I hope you figure it out and become successful with your product. Good luck.
Thanks Yzn :)

I think You're definitely right about needing balance with something less dependent on outcome. I've always told myself I bring more balance into my life once I 'make it'. But I'll probably never 'make it' unless there is some balance there to start with.

And yeah, I think your right and thats probably a major contribution to whatever fear is holding me back. If you put so much effort into something, the fear of failure increases quite a bit, especially when your like me and don't have a whole lot of perspective on making money. Its fairly common sense, and I've known that in the back of my mind, but having someone repeat it back to me certainly helps motivate me to focus on it and root it out.

I think a good lesson I have learned from all this, is that you got to put yourself out there as soon as possible. That is so important when you are a new entrepreneur and have no real perspective. Especially when you're going it alone.

With something as rabbit-hole prone as building a SaaS, finding the most minimal MVP you can and *forcing* yourself to stick to that is the key, and it's a lesson hard learned. (That repeated everywhere on the web, but I think it takes practice and being burned a few times before it really sticks).

But yeah, thanks to reading through the posts on this forum and reading everyones stories, I've got a new found well of power. I'm getting at it again, and this time I'll try to keep it a bit more balanced.
 
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Jackmar

Jackmar

Contributor
Nov 18, 2018
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33
22
Arizona, USA
First off welcome!

Second: GOLD! - Think big and then think bigger than that.

Third: without being too specific what industry is the product for? That would help narrow down which other threads and/or people on the forum could help further.
Thanks MTEE for the welcome and the thread recommendation.

The product is specific geared to a narrow slice of the field service industry in which I used to work. ("Narrow" is very relative term here). There is (very) direct competition and they are doing well. My product is a much more accessible solution to the problem. The goal is to have a less complex product that solves the issue more directly, gives customers more confidence in the delivered result, and doesn't require them to change the way they do business to benefit from the result.
 
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Blu H

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Jun 24, 2018
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If I was in your position... I would focus on myself a bit... and wonder where the block is! Most people with issues are those who simply never take action... which is clearly not your case. Also you've already mastered your craft. I would say the issue is deep deep within. I've had my demons in the past, and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) helped me tremendously. Possibly could do the same for you.

I would recommend a book called Winning the Inner Game by Michael Hall to test the water first... and then Mind-Lines: Lines For Changing Minds also from him to go deep deep within and figure out the frame holding you back. Most people trying to figure it out have very limited skills... while you're already a Master of you craft. Keep digging... since the finish line for you ain't that Far!
 

Frans

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
May 15, 2014
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Kiev
Sorta similar experience. 28yo dev here.
Interested in how you'll solve this.
So yea I can't give you any advice )
But I can at least ask questions )

"(I actually have people in the industry contacting me regularly to check the progress)."
Have you set up a session with these people?

Could it be you set expectations for success so high that this blocks you?
 
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Jackmar

Jackmar

Contributor
Nov 18, 2018
8
33
22
Arizona, USA
Thanks for the replies guys!

@Blu H Thanks for those book recommends. I appreciate it. I've always been a bit skeptical of NLP mainly due to the way its been presented to me in the past. However, this is a serious block and I'm serious about getting over it. I've heard of a lot of success stories so I'm not going to close my mind to NLP as a potential tool until I investigate it for myself. I'm definitely going to check those books out.

@Frans Glad I'm not the only one! Honestly I've met other entrepreneurial developers with the similar stories, I think a lot of us have similar insecurities with this stuff. I think it's made worse with the simple fact that it's harder to focus when you can build pretty much any product you can dream up. There are too many distracting ideas, too many good ones and the fear that choosing one over the other might be the wrong decision. The ability to create anything is the biggest creative block ever.

"Have you set up a session with these people?"
Yes I've been in contact with numerous business owners in the industry as I've built this to get validation and get an insight into the best way to approach the problem.

"Could it be you set expectations for success so high that this blocks you?"
I'm fairly certain thats not it (at least not directly). TBH I could care less at this point if the project fails as rationally I have nothing to lose and everything to gain with experience. Emotionally I feel the same way.

Posting this introduction has laser-focused me to getting over this sh*t. I've been talking with a long time friend who went through a similar thing starting his business. After some digging into himself he found he felt like he wasn't worthy to help others with their problems, and exposing his solution would confirm that fear. Its fear of failure, but not direct fear of the project failing, its fear of failing as a worthy human.

I have no problem building and getting things done for the most part, my issue pops up when it comes to taking the last 2 or 3 steps. When building, those last steps are always off in the distance, out of view. The last few engineering hurdles, which would be a breeze if I were doing this for a client, become a monumental test of focus. Brute forcing my way through it never works for me as I'm not strong enough yet on that front and the mind ALWAYS finds some sneaky way out of focus. Some of these tasks take focus, and a lot of it.

I've decided to stop trying to brute force it. As Blu_H mentioned I think my best way through is to focus hard on the mental part of things, remove the blocks, and continue unimpeded.

I suspect its some deep insecurity based on ego similar to what my friend had mentioned.
The problem with this stuff is its emotional in nature and not rational at all, so its very hard to pinpoint and rationalize. Whatever it is is I am fully committed to figuring it out at this point. I'll update my progress as I get myself through this.
 
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klix

New Contributor
Nov 20, 2011
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I am an entrepreneurial developer too. Been an employee and freelancer too.

What is keeping you from launching this?

For me, a challenging part was designing the thing. I have to exert A LOT of focus into designing something I feel is ready to launch, and it's so hard.

Recently I came across a service called manypixels where you pay one monthly fee and they design whatever you want. I will post more about them in another thread later (I have one on finding a designer), but man oh man have they been helpful in getting a product out of my head.

I think your problem, like mine is basically loneliness in making a product. You need people to bounce ideas off of and get other opinions. Even an external shitty opinion is better than no external opinion to be honest.

If you're like me, then finding a cheap designer service like I mentioned will help.

In addition, you also need to write up a strong commitment letter.

Basically, you write down all the conditions the app needs to do. And promise to yourself no matter what, you will work on the thing until those conditions are met. You basically make an oath to yourself that you will make a product that does X, Y, and Z no matter what. Once you launch your vision, you can change it later to appease the market.

Another helpful thing has been Amy Hoy, she puts out good stuff on selling products (market research and marketing related.)
 

eliquid

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I know exactly what this is.

I build SaaS products and I have gone through this ( and still do at times ).

It's several things layered:

1. Lack of a real plan
2. Perfectionism
3. Fear of failure ( which is highly related to #2 )
4. Confidence in yourself
5. Depression from the results of the above 4 compounded on to each other

It's a little of all 5.

Focusing on #1 will help with all 5 though. If you need help with this battle, don't be afraid to reach out.

You wouldn't happen to be an INTJ or a 5w4 ( or near it ) would you?

.
 

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Jackmar

Jackmar

Contributor
Nov 18, 2018
8
33
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Arizona, USA
Hey guys really appreciate the replies.

@klix I think you're onto something with loneliness, thats definitely a factor that feeds into everything else. This thread is making me feel a lot better on that front, TBH.

@ned.ryerson Yeah... Tell me about it. It's pretty ridiculous at this point.

I know exactly what this is.

I build SaaS products and I have gone through this ( and still do at times ).

It's several things layered:

1. Lack of a real plan
2. Perfectionism
3. Fear of failure ( which is highly related to #2 )
4. Confidence in yourself
5. Depression from the results of the above 4 compounded on to each other

It's a little of all 5.

Focusing on #1 will help with all 5 though. If you need help with this battle, don't be afraid to reach out.

You wouldn't happen to be an INTJ or a 5w4 ( or near it ) would you?

.
You know... You're right. It sounds stupid now as realize that and I type it but I don't really have a plan. I'm definitely a guy who wings it 90% of the time. Actually even the thought of having a plan is 'blocked' (aha if that makes any sense at all).

All of those points are spot on. 2 is something I fight with constantly. 3 hasn't been so obvious and only over the last day or so have I realized that actually I am afraid of failure with this...

I have never taken a personality test before but I just took one and got INTP.

@eliquid Thanks so much for your reply here. I've been following some of your threads and was secretly hoping you would chime in on this hahaha. Thanks to you and some of the other posts I've definitely got something solid here to work with.

Planning is certainly not my strong point. What does a plan usually consist of for you for these later stages of a SaaS product?
 
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AgainstAllOdds

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So I found the best way to stretch my savings so I could stop taking client work and focus on the product. I got myself a $127 a month apartment in Vietnam on a 6-month Visa.

I worked 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 5 months, researching ideas that fulfilled c.e.n.t.s , validating, designing, and bringing my product near completion. I actually worked so hard I ended up freaking out and having a full blown break down and ended up sedated in a Vietnamese health clinic.
You need to change your approach to how you "invest" money (start using invest instead of spend).

You were in Vietnam, where for $1,000 a month you could've had a great apartment and quality of life. There was no reason to pinch pennies and ruin your health.

You could've had talented developers for $5,000 a year and built your product bigger, stronger, and faster.

My advice: learn how to delegate.

Scared to sell? Hire someone to sell for you.

Stressed from working too much? Hire someone to take the brunt of the workload.

In your position, you can get a 6-figure job easily in this economy. If I were in your shoes, I'd take a step back. Take a job. And then invest all the cash from the job into hiring. Get a job for $100k. $65k post tax. $40k post expenses. That's 8 developer in Vietnam working their a$$ off for you.

Change your approach.

You don't have to do it all by yourself. Give others some of the responsibility.
 

eliquid

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I have never taken a personality test before but I just took one and got INTP.
I figured. You're pretty much the same type as me ( INTJ ) and a classic case for "not finishing" almost to a T.

You need a well thought out plan that considers your strengths and weaknesses.

For example, anyone can make a plan. But are the things on the plan productive to you finishing the product and reaching a true goal, or is the plan full of "shiny objects" that will just make your plan one of those that will take 3 years to finish? Hope you can see what I mean here.

After that, it's just starting each day on something small in your plan and blocking out that 3-4 hours ( or 8-12 hours ) of creative and thoughtful work within coding and problem solving to get things done.

It's also agreeing that X feature can come now, but Y and Z feature are good enough ( or can wait 6 months ) while you launch.

Your plan includes all of that so that the most important, basic, and Ah-Ha moments/features are built first and the "nice-ities" are built later on once you prove the concept is profitable and worth building out.

For everyone else, this is a good example of why I wrote my other post Not Fulfilled? Depressed? Maybe You Need An Alignment . Knowing your personality type ( and using that to cater to your specific goals ) can help tremendously if you are in a rut.

.
 

bdb

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Question for the SaaS experts how do you validate your idea before putting months of work in a service ?
 
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eliquid

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Question for the SaaS experts how do you validate your idea before putting moths of work in a service ?
I tend to stick pieces of Cedar here and there in my SaaS to prevent the moths from building up.

But honestly, you need to figure out "what's your authority" and then layer on top of it "scratching your own itch" for the best possible outcome.

Everyone else will tell you to interview people, ask groups, look at reddit or Yahoo answers, see what people are complaining about, or some similar derivative of such. But what if you do that and it leads you to a industry you know nothing about?

Still doable, but you will get further if you look back to my answer and start there.

.
 

bdb

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I tend to stick pieces of Cedar here and there in my SaaS to prevent the moths from building up.

But honestly, you need to figure out "what's your authority" and then layer on top of it "scratching your own itch" for the best possible outcome.

Everyone else will tell you to interview people, ask groups, look at reddit or Yahoo answers, see what people are complaining about, or some similar derivative of such. But what if you do that and it leads you to a industry you know nothing about?

Still doable, but you will get further if you look back to my answer and start there.

.
Cedar ? Duly noted sir :)

On that same note, I've grown weary of software projects as they require a good amount of time and expertise to get them out there without any assurance that you will break even.

So in your opinion it's about focusing on what you already know then expanding on that, makes sense due to the time investment we have to make compared to people in ecommerce.

Wish there was a way to semi validate those software ideas without having to build an mvp.
 

eliquid

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Wish there was a way to semi validate those software ideas without having to build an mvp.
When you build something you are an authority around, AND you scratch your own itch, you've already solved that issue, right?

What are you an authority in that you can build for yourself that you need?

That's your solution right there, which is already validated.

.
 

Andy Black

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But honestly, you need to figure out "what's your authority" and then layer on top of it "scratching your own itch" for the best possible outcome.

Everyone else will tell you to interview people, ask groups, look at reddit or Yahoo answers, see what people are complaining about, or some similar derivative of such. But what if you do that and it leads you to a industry you know nothing about?
Agreed.

Helping people works well. I’m not saying asking folks what they’re struggling with doesn’t work, just that solving the problems they’re already asking about seems more direct.

I’ve found going into communities and helping people with the skill I’m good at both builds authority and helps identify needs that I can fulfil. It also creates the trust and credibility for when/if I then provide a solution to folks in that community.

BTW... to date I prefer scratching my customers itch (as discussed in a different thread).
 
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Andy Black

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AgainstAllOdds

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I figured. You're pretty much the same type as me ( INTJ ) and a classic case for "not finishing" almost to a T.

You need a well thought out plan that considers your strengths and weaknesses.

For example, anyone can make a plan. But are the things on the plan productive to you finishing the product and reaching a true goal, or is the plan full of "shiny objects" that will just make your plan one of those that will take 3 years to finish? Hope you can see what I mean here.

After that, it's just starting each day on something small in your plan and blocking out that 3-4 hours ( or 8-12 hours ) of creative and thoughtful work within coding and problem solving to get things done.

It's also agreeing that X feature can come now, but Y and Z feature are good enough ( or can wait 6 months ) while you launch.

Your plan includes all of that so that the most important, basic, and Ah-Ha moments/features are built first and the "nice-ities" are built later on once you prove the concept is profitable and worth building out.

For everyone else, this is a good example of why I wrote my other post Not Fulfilled? Depressed? Maybe You Need An Alignment . Knowing your personality type ( and using that to cater to your specific goals ) can help tremendously if you are in a rut.

.
@eliquid - I'm also an INTJ, and it seems that you put a lot of effort into studying your personality and what helps you be successful.

Any takeaways for INTJ's? Or resources worth reading on the topic?
 

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bdb

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Agreed.

Helping people works well. Not saying asking folks what they’re struggling with doesn’t work, just that solving the problems they’re already asking about seems more direct.

I’ve found going into communities and helping people with the skill I’m good at both builds authority and helps identify needs that I can fulfil. It also creates the trust and credibility for when/if I then provide a solution to folks in that community.

BTW... to date I prefer scratching my customers itch (as discussed in a different thread).
Thats a good way of seeing things. So instead of mindlessly trying out random ideas, you recommend to become good at something then try to identify the pain points in your field ?

The only problem with becoming an authority in something before trying to scratch your own or your customer's itch is that it takes time, possibly years.

Do you know of any good communities or do you have a workflow for helping people and identifying opportunities in software ?
 

Andy Black

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The only problem with becoming an authority in something before trying to scratch your own or your customer's itch is that it takes time, possibly years.
Help people with XYZ. Be seen to help people with XYZ. Keep doing it consistently and before long people will associate you with XYZ. You don’t need to be an expert.
 

StompingAcorns

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I've built, and built, and built, but I've never launched.
...
Perhaps there is a fear somewhere I haven't fully uncovered.
Are you up for getting into more specifics in this thread? E.g., tell us the following, and see if we can help you more specifically - thinking about it a different way, seeing past your blocks, helping you plan, changing your mindset, whatever. IMHO, that's way more valuable than reading a bunch more books.
  1. What would it take to launch? List everything you can think of.
  2. Of that list, mark which ones are Absolutely Required - can't launch without it.
  3. Why haven't you done the required list? List every reason you can think of.
Just going through this exercise, whether you choose to share or not, may give you some ah-ha's.
 

Kid

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Don't worry. Starting a startup is scariest thing on the planet.
 
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journeyman

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Damn! Powerful introduction. Not sure why but your post made me feel very sympathetic towards your situation. I can't understand (and I won't try to) why you have an almost ready product but you won't launch. Nevertheless, it's awesome that you have reached a solid level as a developer and this is something that should serve you well in your business ventures.

With my limited experience from web apps, it's probably ready but doesn't fit your perfect, crazy expectations. With this in mind, the only obstacle you need to overcome is to just launch instead of keep working on it.

Very helpful right? I know... If you could have, you would have done it already.

Here is a crazy idea to kickstart the launch;

Find a person you can trust. Send him all the source code and even instructions on how to deploy.
Set a date by which you need to have launched.
If you don't launch by that date, your friend has to agree to publish this website independently and post about it on a few different sources. Watching someone else working on your baby may well give you the final bit of pushing you need.

Alternatively, as others have suggested; Tell us what you think is left before you can launch. Let us give some feedback whether what you plan is reasonable or unnecessary.
 

Andy Black

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Curious what effect it would have on you if you changed the word "launch" to "release"?

I didn't launch my course, I released it.

I didn't launch a landing page build service, I just started doing it quietly.
 

Sashko

New Contributor
Jun 17, 2014
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Wow, you've pretty much described me and my current situation. I've been building products but not finishing them or launching any of them due to some deep mental block for years now, just like you have described. Although, I've had no issues building, finishing, and 'launching' products for clients in the past. We're almost the same age and have the same personality type - I'm an INTJ/P. I wonder if that has something to do with it ;) Either way, you're not alone in this.

A couple good books directly related to this topic (besides TMF & Unscripted):
1. ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
2. MAKE by Pieter Levels
3. Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson

Also, check out some articles written by people doing 12 month challenges where they try to build and launch 12 MVPs (minimum viable products) in 12 months, or similar. This can build the 'habit' of launching / releasing. It seems that launching/publishing/releasing a product is just another skill or muscle that needs to be trained and mastered, just like any other skill.

The main thing that's missing from working on a large project for an extended period of time, especially if you're doing it alone, is that you don't have any feedback. Then a bunch of things can happen:
  • you can lose motivation due to a variety of factors
  • you can start doubting your skills and your product
  • you can get distracted by other shinier things
  • you can get bored of the project
The key, I think, is to launch your product/service as quickly as possible, while still maintaining a decent quality of functioning minimum required features and start getting feedback from users asap. From what I've learned, that seems to be extremely motivating. You can course correct later.

Another couple of things that can help:
  • spend (ideally) no more than a month building the initial MVP
  • have a solid deadline for the release date for when the product absolutely must be released/launched
  • create a solid plan for the time period you've allotted until the deadline for what must be done and by when (milestones)
  • ideally, get an accountability partner that will keep you in check; even better, give him/her a significant (to you) amount of money that they get to keep if you don't launch by your stated date
  • try to detach your product/creation from your ego - put less importance on its success or failure; otherwise it gains too much importance and you can't release it because if it fails then you may think you failed or you're not good enough
The key is to release the product. You can always add more features, make it better, & improve later.
 

Andy Black

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Wow, you've pretty much described me and my current situation. I've been building products but not finishing them or launching any of them due to some deep mental block for years now, just like you have described. Although, I've had no issues building, finishing, and 'launching' products for clients in the past. We're almost the same age and have the same personality type - I'm an INTJ/P. I wonder if that has something to do with it ;) Either way, you're not alone in this.

A couple good books directly related to this topic (besides TMF & Unscripted):
1. ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
2. MAKE by Pieter Levels
3. Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson

Also, check out some articles written by people doing 12 month challenges where they try to build and launch 12 MVPs (minimum viable products) in 12 months, or similar. This can build the 'habit' of launching / releasing. It seems that launching/publishing/releasing a product is just another skill or muscle that needs to be trained and mastered, just like any other skill.

The main thing that's missing from working on a large project for an extended period of time, especially if you're doing it alone, is that you don't have any feedback. Then a bunch of things can happen:
  • you can lose motivation due to a variety of factors
  • you can start doubting your skills and your product
  • you can get distracted by other shinier things
  • you can get bored of the project
The key, I think, is to launch your product/service as quickly as possible, while still maintaining a decent quality of functioning minimum required features and start getting feedback from users asap. From what I've learned, that seems to be extremely motivating. You can course correct later.

Another couple of things that can help:
  • spend (ideally) no more than a month building the initial MVP
  • have a solid deadline for the release date for when the product absolutely must be released/launched
  • create a solid plan for the time period you've allotted until the deadline for what must be done and by when (milestones)
  • ideally, get an accountability partner that will keep you in check; even better, give him/her a significant (to you) amount of money that they get to keep if you don't launch by your stated date
  • try to detach your product/creation from your ego - put less importance on its success or failure; otherwise it gains too much importance and you can't release it because if it fails then you may think you failed or you're not good enough
The key is to release the product. You can always add more features, make it better, & improve later.
You might be interested in “The 7 Day Startup” by Dan Norris.

Also, the 300 surveys call in my signature.
 

FastNAwesome

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OP, as a developer I've been a part of a team who worked on an app for even longer than you did, on a serious budget too, and one big mistake is that we didn't show it to customers/prospects until it was done.

We kept adding features and implementing every "cool" idea that no customer asked for, but would "obviously" love. So we thought...

It failed, even though it was better than previous solution.

If you have people checking in on the progress, why not let them login and take your app for a spin? You might get the sorts of feedback you'd never expect.

And if the app is helping them, even though it's not ideal yet, why not get them to start paying for it? So you can sustain it and keep developing it.

@eliquid your posts are always so valuable, thank you very much for contributing. I have a question, that I think may be of help to OP too.

I'm about to build a piece of software to scratch my own itch, and that of our clients. Namely a WP plugin.

So - after I use it for myself, and give it to our clients as a nice perk, how do I market it to others that might need it? How would you?
 

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