“We’re in the midst of a major overhaul to our web app. But we’re behind deadline by… well, quite a bit. So far people using our software and donating to our team have been patient, but I’m concerned that won’t last. We write blog posts and tweet regularly to let people know we’re still around. What else can we do to reassure people that our product isn’t vapor- or abandon-ware?”
Dear Ben, I totally understand your feelings! Accountability is vital for any business, but it can bite you back if you don’t keep up with the goals.
It seems you’re doing all the right things already: writing blog posts and tweeting updates. You could definitely take this to extremes and introduce other ways of communication (live hangouts? Facebook community?) — but it seems like a waste of time to me.
The problem itself goes deeper. Why do you think would people consider your product abandon-ware?
First of all, I’d like to point out that Grawlix CMS is a free product, voluntarily supported by donations. This is definitely not the same as paid software. And even with paid products, you have a single true obligation: the obligation to maintain a technically viable current version (which people are paying you for).
While you can always rely on the following freedoms as the founder:
Your customers always have the right to vote with their credit card: it’s a healthy economic relationship. (Founder freedoms are my favorite topic. They also apply to UI/UX decisions, which I preach endlessly in this book.)
Being accountable with your audience is great, but it’s not your true obligation. Failing on promises doesn’t make you a bad founder, especially if you’re doing your best. Being nervous around deadlines (and apologizing for that) only takes away from your mental health.
Instead, stop worrying, and focus on reaching your goals at the most optimal pace. Your fans will be happy to see a confident founder who steers the product in the right direction — even if life happens along the way!
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