Advice: Just Finish It!

Apple Insider has a great story today about 22-year old programmer named High Gloss (which is an awesome name if it’s real). Gloss, who has worked on more than 20 iPhone applications, recently struck gold with a free application for the phone called “Sound Grenade,” which Gloss himself concedes is “crap.”

The application, which took about twenty minutes to make and consists of less than ten lines of code, according to Gloss, is just a single button that emits an annoying, high pitched noise when pressed. A few days later, the app has received over 200,000 downloads and greater than 500 reviews. At first Gloss was giving it away for free, but after the application hit the iPhone App Store’s Top 50, he started putting ads on it. He processed a million ad requests in 24 hours and is making the equivalent of $200/hour in click-through revenue.

It’s unlikely that Gloss will be able to keep up either the high download rate or the click-through rate for very long given the simple nature of the app. But that’s not really the story here. Neither is the state of the Apple App store, which Gloss says rewards “crap” applications. The best part of the Apple Insider interview comes at the end, when Gloss, perhaps inadvertently, gives some excellent advice to all app developers.

“I’ve got to make apps to be in the game,” he told Apple Insider. “Every idea that I don’t do, for being too rubbish or stupid, could have been in the top 100.”

Or, in other words: follow through with your ideas or you might just be leaving cash on the table. That’s a theme I’ve been seeing repeated a lot recently. A couple of days ago, a post by 18-year-old entrepreneur Jessica Mah on her blog theorized that the reason most entrepreneurs fail is a lack of follow through.

“Pick one idea that you’re passionate about, and whole-heartedley follow through with your implementation,” she counseled. “If you don’t put in the effort to build your company, you’ll see nothing but a self-hating outcome.”

This sentiment is echoed by screenwriter Joss Whedon (of Dr. Horrible fame, see our coverage), as well. Whedon recently shared his top ten tips for aspiring screen writers in an issue of 4Talent Magazine, but many of the tips could be applicable to entrepreneurship as well. His number one tip: just finish it.

“Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years,” he wrote. “Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.”

The advice from Gloss, Mah, and Whedon is all sound, and should be taken to heart. You don’t have anything until you finish it. Yes, it’s a good idea to think about what your target market might want in an application, but obsessing about perfection to the point where you don’t actually finish anything is obviously not going to make you successful.

So get out there and finish something. It won’t be perfect on the first go around — in fact, it will probably never be perfect — but that’s okay. Get it done, get it out there, and then worry about making it better.

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  • http://freebsdhowto.com/ cipixul

    Lovely article, really motivating… I was just working on something and losing hope because it’s too long to do it, now I think again about it.

  • Thomas

    This is a good and in testing article for me. Thanks!

  • http://www.pamil-visions.com Phil Butler

    Exactly Josh, Another saying is; “it is easy to get on top, staying on top is hard.” Something to that effect any way. I think some people are starters, some workers bees and some finishers. Perhaps getting the right combination in the right places is key? I wonder at the unfinished genius none of us will ever see.

    Always,
    Phil

  • http://www.MarkMushakian.com MarkMushakian

    After what has become a hard day, creatively, this was a nice reminder :)

  • ryguy4025

    Great Story. You just got to stay focused and keep working at it

  • kkaland

    I’ve seen that advice too. Its true. Once you start, you build up momentum that keeps things going and improving.
    All the more if you’re a perfectionist. You won’t be able to tolerate other ppl seeing your crap for long, and this will motivate you.

    Kevin

  • http://www.tyssendesign.com.au Tyssen

    High Gloss, I wonder if he’s mates with Matt Finish. ;)

  • http://www.timtrice.com timothytrice

    This post really hits me hard as I’m struggling with what I consider lack of passion. I know my idea is a great idea. I know it can be highly beneficial (in fact, I’ve even talked myself into believing I can knock out one of Oracle’s big software programs). And I’ve started simple. I keep telling myself, “keep it simple (stupid)”. Working on it is not the issue. It’s thinking ahead to the other things I have to work on. For example, figuring out how to convert an HTML document to a PDF before I even have the form setup to write the document. I overwhelm my thought process, stress myself out, and when I come across an issue, even something as small as missing a curly-brace in my PHP script, I get aggravated and force myself to take a break. That break turns into hours, days, weeks, and months. So bad that my girlfriend has even recently told me to straighten up.

    I’m the type of personality that feels I have to do it all myself; from the web design to the programming to the supplying of content and then marketing. So, as you might imagine, the thoughts that run through my head on a daily basis is like whispering to someone standing next to you at a Metallica concert; you’re not going to hear it! I’ve wondered if I even need to take some anti-depressant’s or anything prescription to keep my thoughts clear and concise. That option is NOT off the table. Say what you will, but I’ve even found a small drink and a cigar helps me focus. “Whatever works”, I say. There’s a job to do and those who succeed make sacrifices. I hate the sacrifices I make. But, when I finish each stage of my project, I don’t think about those sacrifices. Rather, I think of what I accomplished. And then I think of the next 10,000 things I have to do.

    Damn!

  • Jessica Mah

    Thanks for the mention! If you put in the effort to build your startup idea, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • praetor

    You could fail and lose time, money and energy.

  • http://www.raymondselda.com/ raymondselda

    ‘JUST FINISH IT’ will be one of my mantras in life. There are times when I get stuck because of thinking too much. It really drains my energy which eventually leads to procrastination.

    I eventually learned to just start working and finish whatever projects I have lined up.

    Thank you for this inspirational article.

  • http://www.dotcomwebdev.com chris ward

    I’ve found the best way to get things done is to increment your ideas by the smallest measure.

    Climbing every great mountain starts with the smallest step, I think, is how the saying goes…

    Something I strongly recommend is tying SVN commits to twitter;
    twitter.com/want2cam for example

    I’ve found this a great mechanism for motivation, as friends, family and my visitors watch progression of the site and give feedback continuously

  • decowski

    Brilliant (in its simplicity) advice.

  • zynasis

    more proof the iphone is just a toy used by idiots

  • Sean Nieuwoudt

    Thanks for this, a few points mentioned were already in my mind, I just needed to hear it from someone else.

    S

  • Raam Dev

    Thanks! This is exactly what I needed to hear right now. I’ve been dragging my feet on revamping my web hosting business website, but no longer!

  • Valeris

    So, basically using the example of someone who’s polluting the App Store with an admittedly crappy app to make money as inspiration? Sad.

  • K

    praetor: you always learn something in the process and therefore your next endeavor will be better

  • saulyx

    I agree I have same problem, I dont follow thru but when I do I make good money… :) It’s lack of consistancy(or what ever the word is)

    Thanks for this!