Ever since The Lean Startup hit the scene (and probably even before that), there’s been a widespread push in the entrepreneurial community to “just ship it.”
Get your product or service out there, and refine it later based on customer feedback.
Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn explains, “If you’re not embarrassed by your first product, you’ve launched too late.”
But that’s not a license to put out crap.
If you want 5-star results, you’ve got to do 5-star work.
Like Corbett Barr wrote in 2014, if you want the big sexy business muscles, you’ve got to be prepared to lift some heavy-ass weights.
And I’m certainly not writing this from on high to say I never put out sub-par work either.
For instance, in my painting days, there were a few jobs that really didn’t go as planned.
I built a niche site in the wine gifts industry, and it was pretty lame. Since I didn’t know anything about the subject matter, and didn’t particularly care to learn, all the content was regurgitated from other sites.
There was no unique value added, and very little reason for anyone to visit the site.
A few years ago, I spent a bunch of time working on a Slow Carb recipe book, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the diet Tim Ferriss described in The 4-Hour Body. To make it unique, it would have required testing, tweaking, and photographing every recipe in the book, which didn’t sound like much fun. Because of that, the book never saw the light of day.
All of these are examples of less-than-5-star work on my part. I think you know the kind; work you’re not particularly proud of, work you’re trying to get out there with the bare minimum effort, or work you’re doing purely to chase the money.
The Customer is Judge, Jury, and Executioner
The problem with The Lean Startup mentality and putting out sub-par work is that customers might not give you another chance.
Their idea of a “minimum viable product” might be quite different from yours.
(Where you can run into trouble is the paralysis of the endless pursuit of perfection, which is equally futile.)
And while I strive to put out 5-star work, quality is in the eye of the customer.
Even when you put forth your best effort, some customers will have a different opinion of what constitutes 5-star work. Here are just a few of the people who disagreed with my concept of it.
I assure you it took a LOT longer than 10 minutes to compile :)
On the Treadmill Desk book:
Totally unfounded … except for the case studies in the book…
And on Udemy:
Not sure how this guy, an experienced fiction author, even ended up in my course, which was aimed at new non-fiction writers.
And most recently, from just last week:
This stuff stings! It hurts.
When I read some of the more scathing of these for the first time, they made me physically uncomfortable and actually a little sick to my stomach.
When you put your best effort out there and someone thinks it sucks, well, it sucks.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
But the best defense against “haters” is 5-star work.
You can’t please everyone and have to trust the consensus. Thankfully the examples above really are the minority!
Yet we all crave the same validations; that we’re smart, funny, creative, helpful.
In school, test results days were the best because the grades gave validation. A 5-star rating today is the same as getting an A on a test; a vote of confidence that someone else thought you did good work.
These days, reviews are my grades.
I’ve actually been a little nervous and afraid when my work (on Amazon or Udemy for example) starts to go viral beyond my immediate circle of influence.
What will people think? What if they don’t like it?
Never mind that reaching those new customers is the entire point of those platforms!
And nothing makes me happier than a 5-star review from a total stranger. That’s the ultimate validation.
In the last couple years, I’ve been immersed in a new world that relies heavily on user reviews for exposure and discoverability:
As a content creator, it’s essential to go out and hustle for those initial reviews. It’s part of the game. But do 5-star work and don’t put your friends or peers in the awkward position of giving you a review they’re not comfortable giving.
Creating 5-star work takes more time, effort, and investment.
When creating my Udemy course, it would have been much faster and easier to just use my built-in webcam instead of shooting the video with a DSLR. But the quality wouldn’t have been as good.
When publishing my first book, it would have been cheaper to not hire an editor. But there would have been some embarrassing typos.
And when creating content for this site, it would be faster to write shorter posts, skip the images, or even accept more guest posts. But the writing, stories, graphics, and formatting are all important parts of the platform.
I was recently gifted a copy of So Good They Can’t Ignore You from Paul Middlebrooks (host of the Entrepreneurs in Training podcast).
The premise is same as this post – DO your best to BE your best to BECOME the best.
Doing 5-star work is the first step to 5-star results.
Have you ever knowingly put out less-than-5-star work? What was the result?
Have you ever had anyone trash your best effort? What did you do to recover?