How many times have I heard this question? When I worked for others and started working on a new product, they couldn’t stop asking: “When will it be ready?” They wanted a close estimate.
But when I founded my own business, nothing changed. Now it was my partners and myself asking.
I get it. It’s natural. As human beings, we all want to be in control over the future. We don’t like uncertainty, so we have to come up with an answer. How not?
If you are creating a new tech product, perhaps you think you can predict the future.
Or maybe, despite your reluctance to be so daring, you adopt a commitment that deep inside, not even you trust. You do it to get rid of the external pressure or satisfy your ego —or maybe even both.
In the end, experts do estimates so, getting people to trust you as an expert requires you to give an estimate, right?
Please, don’t do that.
Not all stages in product development are equal. Working on a consolidated product in the market at the Scale stage is not the same as starting something new.
Kickstarting a product from scratch have plenty of unknowns. Trying to predict the uncertain will only serve you to set unrealistic expectations and unreachable deadlines.
You can try to convince yourself you can finish in three months, six months, one year…whatever, but in a highly uncertain context, nothing will save you. It’s a ticket for frustration and pain.
Like an apple released from a tree, the world does not care if we want the apple to rise to the sky. It will fall to the ground. The reality is that stubborn.
Your work is to reduce risk, not increase it, so embrace reality and act accordingly.
When you’re starting, you’re doing exploration work.
You still don’t know what you don’t know, so be honest:
- Work iteratively to walk the terrain.
- Bet your time and resources at each iteration but don’t commit to delivering anything at the end.
- Let yourself withdraw from the bet when the pieces in your puzzle do no longer fit.
Remember, you need flexibility, not a rigid plan.