I wanted to include the first sentence of the next paragraph “Writing Software is hard” in the highlight above, but Medium doesn’t allow that.
This is so critically important for Startups to master and goes against the instincts of almost ever great software developer I’ve ever met that it bears repeating. If it’s not critical to revenue today or tomorrow, put it off. Don’t waste a single second even gnashing your teeth about the decision. Just act. Move forward. One foot in front of the other is all you can usually manage even on a good day during the first stages of your Startup’s life.
Even if you DO manage to keep this level of focus, the odds will still be stacked against your success…so clawing and scratching away any advantage you can find will help you significantly.
In the early days of a Startup, Founders will be handling support requests in a very hands-on fashion. I’d wager you’ll probably even win a few critical customer experience points by handling these kinds of things via email or Slack / IM channels. Who doesn’t like to feel like they’re such a special customer that the Founders gave your little request their personal attention?
I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t also point out that there’s a point at which this fails to scale. Growing from a scrappy startup to a fledgling enterprise is no easy task, and the demands on a Founder’s time grow exponentially beyond even the most effective productivity measures any lifehacker might conceive. Somewhere along this journey, you’ll have to develop actual “processes” around delivering Support to ensure you deliver a consistently satisfactory customer experience.
If you’re clever, you might even discover that some really smart people have figured out that doing this is even harder than writing software and have spent the better part of the last 30 years documenting the best way to accomplish what many consider impossible.
When this happens, you will need to reconsider the above advice on how to prioritize your feature development plans. But that transition is WAY further down the Startup runway and this “focus on the needs of the present” idea will serve Founders well until you make it to that inflection point.
Side note: Ev Williams I get that it’s probably not fitting with the design aesthetic Medium is aiming for, but sometimes important thoughts span multiple paragraph sentences…I know it’s an edge case so I don’t expect you to add this feature any time soon (and given the subject of this post, I’d be contradicting myself all too ironically if I pressed this point) but it would be nice to be able to highlight paragraph-spanning lines when one responds to a post here on Medium.