“Once the color pallet matches our business cards, we’ll ship”

“Once we tweak the UI color pallet to match our business cards, we’ll ship.” said the self-titled CEO. It was an unusually warm autumn day as Startup Employee X couldn’t believe the words coming out of the CEO’s mouth. This was the fourth delay on a project that was over budget, behind schedule, and they were losing market share to their competitors.

Startup Employee X began to notice a pattern. Every time the product was ready to go the CEO got cold feet and found an arbitrary problem. Employee X worked tirelessly to convince the CEO they were ready to ship, but he refused to listen. The Employee could see the writing on the wall and decided to resign his position.

By the time spring rolled around, the company still hadn’t shipped their product and their bank account was quickly dwindling. The company laid off the majority of it’s staff. The CEO still refused to ship. Three months after that, the company shut down. They never shipped anything.

You could (rightfully) blame the ineptitude of the CEO for the companies failure but I believe the heart of the problem lies in the CEO’s fear of shipping. Unfortunately I’ve seen many founders exhibit some of these same characteristics (thankfully not to the same degree). Things change substantially when you have some skin in the game. It’s far worse to never ship anything then to ship and fail.

Be brave, focus on what’s important, and get some skin in the game. Ship.

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