Don't Wait to Launch your Marketplace
CJ Todd | January 6, 2017
When you are thinking of starting a business, it can be easy to talk yourself out of actually getting started. You may get caught up in the excitement of developing marketing materials or adding new features that you are sure your target audience will want. Yet until you launch, your marketplace won't be tested for value-add by users. Launching early, before you "feel ready" to do so, allow you to see how your marketplace really works, identify flaws, and implement solutions quickly using real-time data.
Why Business Owners Hold Back Launches
Many would-be entrepreneurs hesitate to launch their marketplace out of fear. Opening any sort of business is a risk, and it's only natural to be scared. Still, by holding back, you never expose yourself to the fear and get over it. The longer you wait to get things just right, the more you allow that fear to develop. In reality, that fear will always be there until you launch your marketplace, so there really is no perfect time.
Business owners always have a running to-do list of things they want to do differently, capabilities they want to add, and other changes they want to make. Just as no one is perfect, no marketplace is ever perfect. However, most marketplaces are fully functional even if they are imperfect. As a business owner, you need to recognize when your desire to "make it perfect" is actually getting in the way of making it useful.
Why Launching Early is a Smart Move
Getting caught up in research can be another stumbling block for marketplace owners.
When you're imagining your marketplace, you might think you'll know all your users. In reality, it is not feasible for a marketplace owner to know everyone using the marketplace. That's like thinking that eBay staff know everyone buying items on the online auction site.
If you buy into the myth of knowing everyone, you can assume that, with enough research, you can learn exactly what users want and give it to them. This is simply not true.
Launching early lets you present your marketplace ideas directly to users then watch their behavior and draw data-supported conclusions about what is most useful or needed by your target audience.
On a practical level, the more iterations you take your marketplace through, the higher the overall cost of development. When you're in pre-launch, you're spending all of this money and betting you will make it back. Plus, you're still going on your best guess -- backed up by research -- of what users want.
By launching early, you can get beta feedback from a core group of users who are passionate about your concept. These highly vocal early users can help you see what's working and what needs improvement from your audience's perspective, not from your own preconceived ideas.
By allowing users early access to your idea, you can iterate smart by adding in only the features power users want, learning from in-field experts, and paying less for development. Plus, you'll start to recoup the costs of development earlier as you sign on users and generate sales.
As you smooth out your marketplace, you can track statistics and gather data, which you can use to get investors on board with your marketplace. Rather than try to convince investors that your idea is great, you can show them how much your services are truly needed with data from your early launch.
If you've tried to get funding before and been unsuccessful, this new approach may change things around for you.
Make This The Year You Launch Your Business
Now that you understand the importance of launching early, get your marketplace ready to go and officially launch. Your marketplace is ready to go when it's working properly and has all the features your users need to minimally solve the issue.
If you have one key feature that solves a pain point for your audience, you're ready to launch. If you have one feature, but it's buggy on Android devices, you need to fix the bug and then launch.
If you're still ideating, pare down the ideas. Your time and money is better spent launching simple and building features than fussing over features that may or may not last.
After launch, stay open to the idea of allowing your marketplace to shift its focus to line up with the needs of the community. By holding on too tightly to your original concept, you can stifle organic growth.