One of the biggest pitfalls in working on a project is not getting enough feedback until it is too late.
Be it your startup, app, artwork, one of the worst feelings in the world is creating something that nobody appreciates especially if you’ve spent hours working on it. If you were ever disappointed at other people’s reactions to your work, you probably know what I’m talking about. Here’s what I’ve learned from the last 4 years of my entrepreneurship journey:
1. Your ego is your worst enemy
Thoughts like “It’s not ready yet” or “I don’t want to show it until it is perfect” are extremely dangerous. The more I’ve worked on different things over the years, the more I realized that no product is ever or will be perfect. Nobody likes failure, but unless you’ve achieved full mastery, chances are you are not going to hit the nail on the head the first few times. Jumping to conclusions about how something ought to be can become expensive and time-wasting. So get feedback whenever you can and don’t be afraid to be proven wrong.
The way I see it, rejections are little blessings in disguise – people are telling you exactly what to improve to make it better. Put your ego aside and embrace them!
2. Integrate constant feedback into your workflow
Believe it or not, Wizdy’s first game (Wizdy Pets) took a team of four 2 years to complete. Our second game took a team of three 1 year to complete. These games had similar scopes, so why did the first one take so long? We kept changing our game design based on the few feedback that we’ve gotten by talking to only a few doctors too late into the game. Every time we decided to change directions, it was months of work down the drain.
One thing that helped immensely on the second project was integrating continuous feedback throughout the development of the project and spending a considerable amount of time in the design and prototyping phase. Even before we came up with the final design, we brought devices to kids with very similar games and observed their reactions while playing. During the prototyping phase, we went to play-test with kids from after-school programs at least once every two weeks. This made sure we were on the most optimal track in the general direction we had wanted to go and constantly made small design changes that have huge opportunity costs down the road.
3. Talk to strangers
I am guilty of this. If a friend came to me with a ridiculous idea for a project, I am going to be supportive no matter what. People tend to become much more considerate of the things they say to their peers as they age. The best place to get honest feedback is from people that you don’t know. This doesn’t necessarily mean to go out on the streets to flag people down, but interest group meet-ups are an excellent place to start. Again, I want to emphasize that if you really want a product to succeed, learn to embrace constructive criticism. Does it hurt sometimes? Yes, but we will end up in better places for it.
Every project is different, and unfortunately there is no silver bullet to solve all problems. I hope these points serve as a guideline on avoiding some of the pitfalls that I have wasted a lot of time trying crawl out of. As I always say: fail fast and fail early.
With that, good luck and happy hustling!