If You Never Ship, Your Work is Wasted

What have you shipped

Have you ever worked hard on a task or project only to leave it almost done?

You had the best intentions when you started, but you just didn’t finish.

Maybe you ran out of gas. Maybe you were nervous of finishing.

However, all of your hard work is lost… if you never actually deliver.

Shipping Means Delivering

Great work means nothing if you don’t ever deliver on that promise.

If you don’t ship the work, the quality of the craftsmanship isn’t important.

It is still incomplete.

As the famous saying goes…

“Real artists ship.” – Steve Jobs

What Steve meant by this is that you have to ship the product or it doesn’t matter.

How many people do you know that do great work, but never finish it?

(Companies are just as guilty of this.)

It’s all about finishing your work… to done.

It’s about shipping.

How to Make Sure You Ship

When you don’t ship, you lose by default.

Some examples:

  • A friend who has written a book, but has resisted publishing it for years. Every few months he edits the manuscript more. Yet, it has never seen the light of day and probably won’t ever.
  • The business proposal that isn’t delivered by the deadline. It could be just a “little” better, but by missing the deadline it is removed from consideration. It never had a chance.
  • The product that never makes it to market because it isn’t perfect yet. Remember, the original iPhone didn’t have GPS, a decent camera, or an App Store.

If you don’t ship, your work is already lost.

Here are 5 Ways to Make Sure You Ship:

  1. Don’t Wait for the Right Time – There is never a perfect time, nor will you suddenly have time to “get around to it.” Ship when you are ready, don’t wait for the world to be ready.
  2. Don’t Wait for Perfection – Perfection is an excuse used to avoid delivering. However, you can’t hone your craft forever or it will never reach the world. This is why the good often best the best. 
  3. Make Decisions – Don’t put off shipping due to indecision. Make a choice one way or the other. If you don’t make the choice, life will make it for you. You might not like the answer.
  4. Get Help Shipping – Working in isolation is a recipe for not shipping. Get outside opinions and have a partner to make sure you ship when it is time.
  5. Don’t Think Too Big – Don’t make the mistake of not shipping because you are trying to deliver everything at once. Thinking too big can ensure that you never reach the finish line. Incremental progress is better than never delivering. And then, you can ship again.

Ship Something Today

It doesn’t matter how great the product is if you never ship it.

It doesn’t matter how hard you work if you never deliver.

Don’t wait for perfection, the right time, or someone to give you a sign.

Instead, ship something today.

Question: What have you shipped lately? Share in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “If You Never Ship, Your Work is Wasted

  1. My biggest challenge is #2…waiting for something be perfect. I’ve learned recently that moving forward is more important than having something be perfect.

  2. I definitely have to overcome the belief that it has to be perfect the first time. Good example about the first iPhone. I’ll print these 5 ways to make sure I ship and keep them near my computer as a reminder.

  3. Enjoyed the post – we can so easily mistake activity for outcome. My first version of my blog was a really dull design. No matter I revamped it last year. If I hadn’t done the fist version I wouldn’t have known what to improve because what would there have been to review? Shipped a ebook just at the end of last year where professional editing really helped get the job done.

  4. Hey Craig! This reminds me of ‘The Lean Startup’. I have been through this myself when I was ‘working on’ launching my blog! Once I realized that ‘perfection’ is a journey, I became a lot more action-oriented. I like point no 4. One we learn to involve early adopters in the development of our product, we shift from a ‘perfection’ approach to a ‘continuous learning and improvement’ approach, by involving the users/ customers in the process.

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