earlycustomerBuilding 1.0 products is tough.  Creating something from nothing is hard, a relatively rare skillset.  You need tenacity, creativity, amazing developers, a keen understanding of your market both today and 24-36 months out.
But in the end, it’s the easy part.  Because if you have a talented enough team, you can building almost anything, any 1.0 web service.
So let’s assume you can get that far.  Put together a great team, and get a decent (even good, maybe even great), 1.0 SaaS product out the door.  Then …
How the heck do you get any traction?

With that, my Top 5 Things You Should Be Doing Post-Launch and Pre-Traction … to Get to Traction:

  • Hire the Top Missing Pieces.  You should spend 20% of your time finding, recruiting, begging the top missing pieces on your team.  Not a hour here, an email there.  One full day of the week, or 2 hours a day.  Without these hire(s), you will fail.  Yes, it is hard.  Cry me a river.
  • Get Attention For Your App.  Whatever you can possible do.  Go to every conference.  Speak at any possible event you can, no matter how small.  Win every award. Try to get every blog to write about you.  Reach out to anyone and everyone in your space.  Be respectful, but totally, utterly, shameless here.  Do whatever you can possibly think of here.
  • Get Out of the Office and Get Early Customers and Partners.  Some may find you on their own, but to get your customer base going, you’re going to have to hustle.  Try to meet with any possible customer you can.
  • Lavish Attention On Any Single Customer and Every Single Lead You Get.  Don’t dismiss any customers.  Each one represents the exact needs and wants of 10-100 more, irrespective of your market size.  Make each early customer a success — and you will make another 100 customers a success.  See our first hit in the Wall Street Journal above — this was from one of our first 10 customers.  I talked to him myself on the phone 60 days after 1.0 launch, while walking the floor of a tradeshow, trying to drum up interest … I remember it well.
  • Carefully Plan Your Next Release – It May Be Your Last Best Chance. You don’t have infinite time.  Take your time, but get the next release right.  Make sure it expands upon whatever you’ve learned since your Launch.  Invest time to make your first users/customers successful.  And then make 1-2 bets on where you think it could go.  A few key integrations.  A feature that could change the game.  Assume your next release is Your Last Best Chance.  Make it count.

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