Little Lessons #5: Launch And Learn

Nubby Twiglet | Launch And Learn

I’m a planner. While this is considered a positive trait in daily life, planning too much can be detrimental, especially when it comes to business.

Case in point: Since last year, I’ve been working out the details for a number of digital products for Branch and Blogcademy and in my mind, things needed to be perfect to launch. I felt that offering anything less than my best work was a bad idea. But I’ve since realized that it’s not an all or nothing mindset when launching products; there needs to be a middle ground.

While Star was visiting me a few weeks back, I was going through my list of digital product ideas with her. I was thinking of waiting so I could release some of them as a set. She shut the idea down immediately. In her world in San Francisco where she’s surrounded by start-ups and web developers, to make things happen, you have to be able to “pivot” fast. If you don’t move quickly enough, you’ll miss the boat on the next big thing. In my world, I call it “launch and learn.”

Star’s advice to me was clear and immediate: Instead of sitting on an idea, do the best you possibly can at the time, even if it’s not perfect. Launch. Learn from the launch and apply those improvements to the next round. The reason for this is because you can do never-ending market research, design the most beautiful product ever and come up with a brilliant plan to market it but that still doesn’t guarantee your offering will be successful.

It all made sense. I was sitting on great ideas because I wanted them to be perfect…and I was missing the boat.

Looking back, launching and learning is is exactly what we did with The Blogcademy. We had a content outline, we had a very simple WordPress website, we wrote the copy ourselves…and I had two days to design the branding. We had no idea if the business would be a success so we didn’t want to invest too much upfront. We launched, sold out our first-ever class in under a week…and then learned. A lot.

Our first class was full of bumps. I hopped an overnight flight to NY, we packed the goodie bags ourselves and showed up at our very tiny venue. The whole weekend was a little rough around the edges but we kept applying our learnings to each class following that. By the end of our first year, things ran really smoothly and our presentation had improved immensely. But if we’d sat on our idea, fine-tuning and perfecting the presentation, workbook, venue and our marketing copy, we would have lost our momentum, a year of income…and honestly, we wouldn’t have even been that much better off. Because the only way to really know what works and what doesn’t is to let it out into the world: launch and learn.

Stop sitting on that amazing idea. Get started, get it out into the world and if things don’t go as planned, that’s okay. That’s part of the learning process.

13 Responses to Little Lessons #5: Launch And Learn

  1. So, so, so agree with this. Being a perfectionist can lead to procrastination. It’s a lesson I’m still learning at the moment. Getting the balance between ‘get it out the door’ and ‘make sure it’s OK first’ can be tough, but as they say if you never make a mistake you’ve never tried anything new. Definitely linking to this in my weekly favourites blog post.

    Hope you Kat and Gala have a fab time together. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  2. Joey says:

    Brilliant advice from Star and excellent post! Coincedentally, that’s often the advice you give to others!

  3. Kate says:

    This is amazing advice and very well-timed for me personally. Thanks so much for writing this – it’s given me the nudge I need! x

  4. Adri VelBac says:

    Thanks so much Shauna!

    I’ve been putting off a short collection development because I honestly feel I’m not where I want in my sewing technique yet….. but you’ve hit a spot, one that makes me nervous, and yet cant manage shaking off the urge of jumping into my sketch book and start throwing design ideas

    I’ll give it a try… tonight :3

    Have a blast in SF with those two other lovely troublemakers!


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  6. Exactly! I have been reading and hearing this for the past year and to be honest… I haven’t taken the leap for the things I want to do most. Only going after the smaller prize. I don’t know if it has been fear or if it is the fact that I just didn’t know what I wanted. After visiting Portland, or more so, after getting out of my normal routine for a week, I have realized so much of what I REALLY want. I have felt so sure about it. The funny thing is though, I have been wanting it all a long and I have been just sitting on it because it isn’t perfect. That is soon to change though. It hasn’t been a complete loss though, I have learned so much over the past year and I think it has made me 10 times the designer I was this time last year. THANK YOU for sharing this. Everyone needs to take this advice and I need to be reminded every day. Launch and Learn.

  7. Celeste says:

    This is great post! I’m about to launch my blog and this really inspires me just to go for it and stop worrying about all the details. Thanks for sharing!

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