In tennis the best way to win points is through an ace. It’s fast and effective. The perfect first shot. Professional tennis players must be trying to hit an ace every time they do a first serve. But they don’t. In fact they rarely hit an ace. The best tennis players in the world hit what, 20 aces a game? And they’re serving hundreds of times. That’s not a great percentage.
But of course, it’s not meant to be. If hitting an ace was easy, everyone would do it. And the challenge and value of winning at tennis would be diminished because it would all be accomplished with quick, easy shots.
In tennis, like in entrepreneurship and business, it’s all about the follow-up.
Aces are great. Best way to win points. But it’s unrealistic to expect you’ll hit an ace every time. It’s what you do after you try and hit an ace – to win – that really makes the difference. A great shot on the baseline. A drop shot that no human could reach. An overhead smash and grunt to really drill home the point that you’ve won. It’s the follow-up.
When launching a product (especially a Web 2.0 one) it’s not about what you launch first, it’s what you launch second, third, fourth and fifth that matters. Of course, if you hit the ball into the net you’re in trouble, but you still get a second chance.
I didn’t find anything offensive or inaccurate in Guy Kawasaki’s post about how little it cost to launch Truemors. And there’s some interesting information there on how he spent the money (i.e. the legal bill surprised some.) You can launch businesses and Web products cheaply. It doesn’t work all the time and in all cases, but that’s not Guy’s point either. He picks a side to argue it, and generate buzz.
I don’t find Truemors particularly interesting or valuable except as an exercise in building something quickly and inexpensively. The content is mostly garbage, it’s uncategorized and largely unfiltered. I can get better, more authentic, and more trustworthy rumors – for my particular interests – in a slew of other places.
But Truemors will succeed or fail not on its opening launch, but on what it does next. And after that. And beyond that still. The buzz that Guy’s generated is awesome (kudos Guy!) but after the hoopla dies down you need people coming back; and they need real reasons to do so. Truemors is far from an ace, but there’s still time for a volley game and a backhand winner down the sideline.
Don’t be afraid of swinging for an ace. Swing for it every single time. But expect and plan your follow-up, because that’s where the game is won.