To ship or not to ship (and a podcast for you)

A common discussion between entrepreneurs is the complex subject of “when is a product ready to be shipped?”

By this, we don’t necessarily mean physically sent somewhere, but rather when is that thing you offer (whether it’s digital content, anbook or manuscript, a physical product, a new course or training module, etc.) ready to begin offering to people for purchase or consumption.

For many of us, it’s the drive for perfection that trips us up.

We don’t want to “ship it” until it’s just so. Until we’ve tweaked and edited and restyled and tested it to death, and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will never get better than this.

Except we rarely get to that point.

There’s always something else you could change. Always room for improvement. At some point you have to stop driving yourself crazy with perfectionist tendencies and get that thing into people’s hands.

In fact, I think one trait that a successful entrepreneur possesses is the ability to pursue excellence while balancing it with a willingness to courageously put their products and services out there for the public.

You may change and improve it over time, once it’s out there. But at some point you just have to ship it or the reality will be that you really don’t have a business because you don’t actually have anything that you’re willing to offer.

There’s another side to this, though. Yes, sometimes we have to say “This is good enough, I’ve done my best, and it’s time to launch this thing. I can always continue to make it better as I go.”

There’s also a time to say “This isn’t ready, it isn’t my best work, and I’m going to wait on it.” Both responses can be the right one, depending on the circumstance.

For us, this week was one of those times it wasn’t ready.

A couple nights ago, exhausted from being in the middle of a big bundle sales event, while preparing to leave (this week!) for our next big trip, and dealing with sickness in our home, we decided that we needed to just stay up, push ourselves, and record our next podcast so we could stay on schedule.

So at 9:15pm, when all was quiet on the home front, we sat down to get our gear set up, write some talking points, and record the podcast.

Except that we’d been having huge internet issues that day, had just re-formatted our usual recording computer due to a virus, had to switch to a new computer and set up our microphone differently than usual — all before we could even start talking.

By the time we were actually recording, we were pretty fried. The topic at hand (how we prepare and plan for a trip, what we bring, how we work while traveling, etc.) really excited us but our brains were no longer functioning at full capacity. Not to mention I had been struggling with a cold for weeks that turned into bronchitis, and late evenings were my worst time for coughing fits.

We went ahead and recorded anyways, sure that we could edit a little and make it work just fine.

Until I listened to it this morning to start sound production and editing, and I realized it wasn’t useable.

Mucking around with our usual computer and mic set-up had left us with tinny, echo-y sound that wasn’t pleasant to listen to. Recording late in the evening had me coughing more than usual, which was picked up really loudly by the microphone, despite my attempts to move away and make it less obvious. And our usual bantering, conversational style didn’t sound engaging and friendly — it sounded rambly and like we were, well, completely exhausted. Which we were.

Our goal is to be as consistent as possible in the content and products that we produce, for all of our businesses. It’s extremely important to us.

And yet in that moment, as I listened to this flawed recording, I knew that this was one of those times when you choose not to ship it, because it’s just not good enough.

It was a hard decision for me, to be honest. I don’t like letting people down and I don’t like getting off schedule. But I’m also not OK with putting out work or products that aren’t high quality and of true value to others.

It was better to share nothing, than to share something that felt less than our best.

Not to mention that putting out a poor quality podcast would have affected our reputation as podcasters, negatively impacting people that were new to the podcast, and disappointing regular listeners. That’s not worth it, either.

All in all, it was an important lesson for me, and I’m grateful for it.

And with that, I’m sorry to say there isn’t a podcast this week to share with you.

But, there is a podcast that was just released on Self-Made Entrepreneur, where our new friend Jason Bax (who it turns out lives an hour away from us – small world!) interviews Ryan and I together on the work that we do, our philosophy of doing business, and how we manage it all, as serial entrepreneurs with a busy family life.

–>> You can listen to that podcast HERE.

Have you struggled with the question of whether something was ready to ship or not? How did you make your decision?

Image by StefanHoffmann

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