Working in Public Is Hard

The ability to work in public is probably in the Top 5 challenges I’ve had to face in the last several years. I’m not talking about going to Starbucks with a laptop and working for several hours while people watch you work.

I’m referring to building something new and working on it in such a way that the general public knows about it without you telling them.

Nobody likes or wants to fail. From a young age, we’re told we are awesome so there are expectations that when we set out to do something, we are going to succeed. That’s not always the case. In fact, we know that it’s not true, even as we tell others and they tell us otherwise.

People fail all the time. Have you ever applied for a job and not been asked to come for an interview? It happens all the time but in each instance, you have failed in some way. You don’t think about it, but these things do affect you.

Nobody Wants to Fail… Especially Publicly

It’s exponentially more pressure to do something when everyone has an expectation that you will succeed. Falling flat on your face on a public stage, both in a figurative and a literal sense is a mortifying thought. Go search YouTube or Facebook and you’ll find plenty of videos of people who quite literally got on a stage in front of other people and then fell.

We laugh because it’s not us.

But when it IS us, just walking out onto the stage is terrifying. The words echo in your head: Don’t fall… don’t fall… don’t fall…

That’s not far off from “Don’t fail”.

A little over a week ago, I announced that I was launching a video series called The 21 Days Before My SaaS Launch.  Since that announcement, I’ve recorded 9 videos and released them privately to several hundred people who signed up to receive a daily email announcing the new video. Presumably because they were interested in the story.

Or they wanted to see me drink whiskey. I’m really not quite sure.

Most stories like this are produced with the benefit of hindsight and a bit of what I’ll call “creative polish” to keep the ego from being too badly bruised. Given where my last product ended up, I know I can’t do any worse than that. But I also can’t say for sure that I know everything is going to work out.

Sometimes, You Will Fail

There are plenty of ways I could fail. In fact, on a pretty regular basis I fail to accomplish everything I’d like to. I think this is a common theme for most founders but nobody talks about it.

Nobody wants to share the day to day struggles where you had all these big plans and got almost nothing done because a bug report came in that needed to be fixed. Or you didn’t get a good night of sleep the night before. Or your kid got sick so you had to take him to the doctor. Or a billion other ways… that life just got in the way of what you were trying to accomplish.

This happens to everyone. You, me, the people we look up to online, everyone. But here’s something to consider.

Working Publicly Increases Chances of Success

It’s counter-intuitive but you have some pretty bad ideas. Don’t get me wrong. Many of mine are terrible too. But when you make decisions in public, they get better because other people get to see them and point out the errors or edge cases they don’t cover.

The byproduct of this is that these additional ideas will define your own thoughts, processes and progress in ways you can’t anticipate. You might say “I’m going to run a Facebook advertising campaign and here’s what I’m expecting”, only to have someone comment that it’s wildly unrealistic based on their experience and here’s why.

You get the benefit of collective wisdom.

That doesn’t mean you listen to everything people say, but rather that you get additional input and insight that you wouldn’t have received otherwise. It’s still up to you to decide the correct course of action but at least you’re no longer operating in a bubble. And that’s the real benefit of working in public.

I’m Sharing My Launch Story

Initially, I was only going to share this with people on my mailing list. Along the way, I’ve received feedback through a bunch of different channels, some private and some public. I’ve learned that what I’m doing is having a really positive impact on people who are following along.

I came to realize that it could help people if I made these videos publicly available. More selfishly, it would help me as well. So here’s a direct link to the series itself. No email signup required, no hidden access links. Here’s the link to the table of contents that lists every video so far.

The 21 Days Before My SaaS Launch

Each post is a 5-8 minute video showing you a glimpse into my day as a founder while I gear up to launch my SaaS app called Bluetick. I also start each one with a brief introduction to a new whiskey from my collection.

While I’d appreciate it if you signed up for the daily emails during that series, you’re under no obligation to do so. You can simply check back in on occasion when you feel like it. Thanks, and I hope you join me for the ride.

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