MT Expert - Innovation: Why doing is better than thinking

Ian Sanders explains that software companies have got it right when they launch in 'beta'. The good news is, it's not just for techhie-types...

by Ian Sanders
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

It’s a simple factor that can make a real difference in business success.

In a competitive market, it’s not having the idea that wins; it is - of course - about how quickly you execute it. Software start-ups have known this for a long time. In the long tail of the smartphone apps market, developers and entrepreneurs make their products fit for purpose and launch early, rather than waiting until it’s perfect. Fit for purpose means while it’s still a prototype, you’re shipping something of value. Listening to user feedback and making adaptations as you go keeps you ahead of the competition.

Whatever business you’re in, try thinking like a software company and apply speed to making your idea happen. Whatever your product or service it’s probably  better to launch ‘in beta’ rather than procrastinate and get stuck in business planning. The idea that launches fastest is the one that succeeds; as one of the new generation of twenty-something software entrepreneurs, Feross Aboukhadijeh reminds us, ’done is better than perfect’.

Speed is a business lesson that any organisation can learn. Whether it’s a new product launch or a new division starting up, making it happen quickly is critical. Too many organisations get so stuck in internal procedures they don’t focus on just getting it done. Ideas are mulled over in meetings, those meetings run over time and decisions get carried over to next month. What would have been a brilliant, awesome idea if it was launched in 10 or 30 days becomes weaker when it is finally launched, diluted, 100 days later. It doesn’t have to be that way!

For my new book, I spoke to author, venture capitalist and former chief evangelist of Apple, Guy Kawasaki. Guy said that making your business idea happen fast is about shipping your product to real life customers. ‘I’m not saying you should ship a piece of crap: you should ship something great. But if you try to ship something great that is perfect, you’re going to take too long. You’ll learn more about your product in the first week after shipping than 52 weeks thinking about and studying and doing focus groups.’

Don’t be one of those people who had a great business idea but got beaten to launch. Make it happen: give it some Zoom!

- Ian Sanders (@iansanders)  is an author, ideas guy and marketing expert. His new book, co-written with David Sloly is 'Zoom! The Faster Way To Make Your Business Idea Happen', more at

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