Just Keep Shipping

Reflections on learning to thrive in the in-between.

Last March, I left my company to start something new. I spent a year pouring every ounce of creative energy into my startup, but, for reasons that I’ve spent too long analyzing, it didn’t work out.

Now, my biggest challenge is learning how to thrive in this in-between period. It’s easy to let anxiety creep in when my days are unstructured, and the results of my efforts are less tangible.

So far, I’ve found the most effective antidote is to just keep shipping.

Shipping looks a little different than it did when I was building a product. Each week I record and ship a podcast. I’ve begun writing about whatever I happen to be pondering and publishing at least once a week.

But shipping doesn’t have to be as concrete as building features, publishing articles, or dropping podcast episodes – it can merely be delivering value to others in some form.

Last week, I spent an afternoon with a friend strategizing about their business. It was highly productive and sparked inspiration in me. I’ve also been more deliberate about chiming in when I have knowledge on Twitter, in my email inbox, and forums like Indie Hackers.

Anytime I ship, no matter how small the act, I’m always rewarded. What you put out into the world has a way of coming back around.

I believe shipping relentlessly will be a crucial part of zeroing in on my next business. Pieter Levels, founder of Nomad List and author of MAKE, has a radical take on shipping:

You may need to try shipping 10 to 30 products for 1 to 3 years before you have anything that works. That’s how this approach works. You build stuff and see what sticks. I don’t know anybody who shipped one product and instantly became successful. It takes a long time to “get” it and even then it’s a lot of luck and timing.

I can follow the myriad idea validation playbooks to shorten that time window (hopefully). But, no playbook can guarantee an idea will work.

The only real way to know is to ship it.


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