When you're trying to build your own product, it's easy to get in a rut. Stuff happens, and it affects your momentum: failed launches, procrastination, fear, not knowing where to start... all these things take their toll.
But 2014 is a new year. The new year is the perfect time to renew your energy, and actually launch something.
Here's a framework for helping you succeed with your own product starting this January.
"The best time to take action toward a dream is yesterday; the worst is tomorrow; the best compromise is today."
~ Alvah Simon, Author
It's time to go back to basics: who are your customers?
In the midst of building your product, you might have forgotten about who you're trying to serve with this thing you're building.
Take the beginning of January develop a clear vision of who your customer is, and what they need. Reach out to customers personally. Get a feel for who they are, what they do, and what they need help with.
You're not just developing software / writing a book / offering a download: you're helping real people solve real problems.
"[Successful companies] create products for people in their audience — not some niche industry they discovered maybe needed software or books... they focused on helping people"
~ Amy Hoy, 30x500
Now, take a look at your product. What have you been building? Does it match up with what your customers need?
Maybe that feature you were hammering on in 2013 just doesn't matter - it's OK to stop working on it. In fact, to succeed, you're going to need to focus on what does matter.
Where's the gap between what you currently provide, and the pain that your audience has?
"People don’t buy software, they buy outcomes."
~ Brennan Dunn, Planscope
Trying to solve multiple pain points all at once will spread you too thin. Pick the biggest pain point and focus on just that until it's shipped. Coming up with ideas for new features gives you a temporary high: it's invigorating to think about other projects you could work on. But the key to success is seeing one project through before starting on another.
If you're looking for a good organizational system, I recommend Personal Kanban.
"There’s not much more important than focus and tenacity."
~ Seth Godin, (Source)
In order to really focus, remove every distraction that you can.
Just sit in your office, and observe your impulses. What breaks your concentration?
Maybe it's when the phone rings. Or a Twitter notification. Kids yelling? Bored of your surroundings?
Take note of the things that keep you from getting your best work done, and try to minimize those things.
"Each time a worker was distracted from a task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task."
~ Clive Thompson, Meet the Life Hackers
You've observed what environmental distractions affect your productivity, but there's one more factor you need to consider. You have internal distractions as well: the stress in your life.
If you're worried about debt, a relational issue, your health, you're not going to make good decisions in other areas of your life (including business). Deal with those personal issues first!
More reading: How stress affects your mental health.
If you haven't already, make it a goal to schedule the following things in your company's calendar:
It's ok to take the month of January to go through the process: