✔ It's all about passion! - Passion 3: Product [part 1]

Note: This is the 10th excerpt from my book "It's all about passion" which I wrote and shared as a gift to my readers and my Nozbe customers on my 35th birthday. You can get the entire digital ebook (PDF, Mobi or ePub) for free or buy from Amazon (all proceeds go to charity).

I will be publishing the entire book as a series of blog posts over the next weeks here every Friday, so you can read it bit by bit (I know you might be too busy to read an entire book at once). I'm also doing it to be able to "talk to you" about each chapter in the comments section below, so make sure to post your feedback, questions and your passion-related stories in the comments. Thank you for your passion!

"It's all about passion!" - The 7 types of passion I discovered over 7 years of running my productivity startup

It's all about passion - 10

Passion 3: Product

"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." - Aristotle

You're building a great product, right?

Every startup builds a product or service. A service is a product itself so let's cut it short to the fact, that whatever your startup is building, is a product. Facebook, Twitter, Google Search, Yahoo Portal, eBay... these are all products just like Apple's Macbook Air or Mac OSX.

My Nozbe is my product. I built it because I needed it. Not because I wanted to prove something to someone, or because I wanted to earn money. I needed this product and I built it... and more than 7 years in, I keep on building it.

Every startup product is in constant "beta"

When Gmail (Google Mail) launched in beta it stayed like this for more than two years... and then they removed the "beta" sign... although they could have kept it indefinitely. Gmail keeps on evolving, changing and getting better. It really is at beta stage all of the time.

Same applies to your startup product. If you're passionate about it - you want to constantly improve it. You want it better every day. You physically suffer if it doesn't meet your expectations... and it never does. Because you know it can be so much better.

"People don’t want a perfect product… what they want is a passionate person behind the project. If you can show people you are passionate about creating a perfect product by releasing it, then getting feedback and iterating…then people will jump on board…especially if the product solves a real-world problem." - Neil Patel, blogger, co-founder of KISSmetrics

"Product people" rule the world

Remember Bill Gates? When he was in charge of Microsoft, he was all about his products. He was the mastermind behind Windows and Office... and these two products now pay for all Microsoft's other ventures. Now that Steve Ballmer (a sales guy) was in charge, Microsoft started going down...

What happened to Apple? How did it rise from the ashes? They got Steve Jobs back on board... and he was the "product" guy - he was fascinated by what they were building and he could go on and on about their "awesome" and "amazing" products. When he pronounced the iPad as a "magical device" I bet he really believed it. I did. And I still do. And I wrote this entire book on my iPad actually.

If you really want to build a fantastic startup, you must be a "product guy". You must seriously care about your product. You've got to have this passion for your product deep inside of you.

Eat your own dog-food

I love this saying as it's so "doggy". Now many people prefer the more positive version though: "sip your own champagne" - but it implies your product is perfect... and it never is - so let's just stick with the dog-food.

Eating your own dog-food means you must use your product every day. Every single day. There's no other way around it. And not just use it. You have to be your own "power user". It's the only way to stay passionate about your product - when you use it daily and you see it through the eyes of your customers who do use it all the time.

Don't use a special version of your product.

Before we ship a major new release of Nozbe with some cool new features we do test it on our "development server" and I also do the testing myself. However I work in the "production version" of Nozbe where I have all my projects and tasks. I use the same version as my customers.

I do it mainly to make sure I feel the same things the customers feel. If we introduce a cool new feature, I can see myself how it performs in real life by using it together with my users. If the feature is buggy, I feel their pain and I'm desperate for a fix as much as the next guy. I'm in my users' shoes and I feel them all the way.

When I stopped eating my dog-food, things went bad.

When we developed our initial version of our Android client, I was testing it with some sample data but as an iPhone user I didn't bother to sync my real data with it. I decided it wasn't all that important... but the app wasn't getting good reviews and some customers where unhappy.

And then I decided to use it and carry the Android phone with me. The first thing that happened? The app crashed on my first sync. I called up my CTO and he said there was a bug that a big Nozbe account could not sync with the app… I was horrified. My power users were complaining for a good reason. The app sucked. We worked it and when we fixed it the next weeks I was using the Android app every day, syncing with my desktop app (also in "beta").

If I hadn't used the app myself, we would have spotted the bug later, upsetting even more people along the way. That's why it's so fundamental to keep eating your own dog-food. Only this way I'm truly passionate about my product.

"Creating software for other people is really hard. It’s so much easier to create something for yourself. And when you are creating something for yourself, you are the customer, too. You’re not the only customer, you don’t have all the answers, but you should have a fair amount of the answers and if you look at pretty much any sort of widespread, successful product or start-up out there, the creators of those services or tools, they damn well use their own product." - David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of Basecamp

To be continued... or get the book free and continue reading :-)

Question: Who are the "product guys" you admire the most?

Posted on Friday, October 10, 2014 (passionbook,product)

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