How to avoid product paralysis when fundraising for your startupApr 10, 2019
If you’re a founder in the throes of creating your first product to go to market, you’re probably keen for it to be as close as possible to perfect.
If you’re getting ready to go into crowdfunding, however, the pressure is likely to be slightly different. You want to impress your customers because they are investing in your product before they’ve really had a chance to see it in action. And why shouldn’t you?
But it’s here that product paralysis - of which symptoms commonly include near-constant anxious fiddling, changing or adding features to your product instead of declaring it ready - becomes a common threat to just getting your product out there, and raising those crucial funds to grow.
It’s a vicious cycle that often starts with self-doubt that something about the direction of your project isn’t quite right, but you don’t know exactly what to do to fix it so you instead try a bunch of different things which only stresses you out and dilutes the direction of the project or product even more.
Fear of failure
At this stage, it’s important to establish whether your product paralysis is down to fear of failure.
If you’ve effectively built your product and planned your campaign well but are making constant changes instead of launching it because you are scared that your crowdfunding campaign might fail, the best advice is to simply stop and launch with what you have.
If you’ve thoroughly tested and validated your idea, carried out the necessary research and got the ball rolling with your early investors, you’re unlikely to fail and are only likely to make mistakes if you keep making unwarranted changes, delaying the progress of your startup.
Get some crowdfunding advice from our experts if you’re really stuck. And just go for it.
If your product paralysis is not down to fear of failure, you’ll be pleased to know that the way out is simpler than you might imagine.
Development paralysis is a symptom of too many assumptions. If you have too many assumptions - about your product, your customers, your investors - and you don’t know what to do next, you need to test and validate these assumptions.
Don’t get locked into doing anything and everything you think might help because you’ll get tangled up in what will feel like a never-ending ball of string.
Build. Measure. Learn.
Think of it like this. If you’re put in a room with no lights, you’ll start feeling around the room to get an idea of the environment. You’re not going to start running around because you’ll probably trip over or hit a wall.
A smart person wouldn’t necessarily even start with feeling the room with their hands, they’ll ask ‘hello, is anyone there, can anyone help me’, if there’s no reply, they’ll move on to feeling around to try and figure things out.
The same concept can be applied when getting yourself out of a product paralysis tangle. Instead of rushing forward with new ideas before you know if they’re right or not, take a pause, think about who these decisions would affect (e.g. your target customers) and consult with them about the usefulness of this new feature or change in direction.
Test your assumptions, little and often.
If you don’t have anyone to ask, pare your ideas back and consider implementing only the simplest of features that help you to achieve the primary goal of your product.
‘Must, Could, Should, Won’t’, or MoSCow, as it’s affectionately known, is a useful place to start.
This is an approach that is critical at every point of the project, most importantly at the start (where it will likely prevent product paralysis from occurring in the first place). But if you haven’t prioritised well enough, this is still an effective approach to take if you’re further along in developing your product, with deadlines looming close ahead.
Once you have shipped the basic version of your product or MVP, you can gather customers and advocates who will help inform you on the next steps and get those product cogs moving smoothly once again.