Shipping is Hard.

The post office makes me nervous. When I’m there, I often feel embarrassed because I have no idea of what I’m doing. It’s lead to me hating boxes, packaging, and shipping.

However, when I’m in the line, I see people come and leave out of frustration. Either the line was too long, they forgot something at home, or they simply changed their mind. So when the postal clerk puts the stamp on my box, hands me a receipt and wishes me a good day, I get an instant sense of gratification. I accomplished something those folks couldn’t. In spite of my nervousness and ignorance, I shipped.

Shipping is necessary because often times it’s a promise. Whether it’s a Christmas gift, a birthday present, an eBay sale, or a bill payment, there’s a reason why it needs to get to the other person. The same goes for shipping product. You’ve made a promise to your target audience.

For the past eight months I’ve been working on our promise, Evomail. It’s an upcoming email app for the iPad and it has taught me a lot. It’s taught me the importance of my own opinion, how to guide my users, how to be concise, the value of taking breaks, and how to think outside the box. But one thing I couldn’t grasp was the idea of shipping. I had read numerous articles surrounding the words “SHIP” and “MVP,” but the capitalized letters weren’t doing it for me. It wasn’t until I read this line in an article by Matt Mullenweg that it finally clicked.

If you’re not embarrassed when you ship your first version you waited too long.

I wasn’t exactly embarrassed of Evomail, but I was nervous for the past three months. Yet, it was still confined to less than 20 iPads, 400x300 Dribbble teaser shots, and clever tweets. Although we had made a promise to ship it to our user base, we were too nervous to give it the postal clerk. 95% of the journey was complete, but when we’d approach the line, we’d abruptly turn around claiming to have forgetten something or to have changed our mind. This constant going back and forth became frustrating and it wasn’t until we realized we were there that we refocused and re-prioritized. “Ship and deliver at all costs” became our new mantra.

Tonight we shipped Evomail for App Store approval. I’m still nervous about some of the buttons I didn’t shift 3px. I’m still uneasy about some of the icons we didn’t switch out for others. But… tonight we shipped Evomail. It was handed to the post office rep (Apple), they gave us our receipt, and wished us a good night. We fulfilled our promise.

Our industry is way too young for us to claim that we know what we’re actually doing. There’s no set process to go about delievering our products to the world. We just have to learn as we go and at times say no.

Shipping is hard, but you made a promise. So do it anyway.

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