A lot of startups, especially SaaS startups, are extending their free beta for far too long. So many companies seem scared of pulling the trigger and asking their users to give them a dollar, and evolve from users to customers.
Their fear is justified, because the second you start charging for a product, all of the bubbly bullshit falls away. The market is cold, rational, and effective. It doesn't care about your lean startup methods, your rockstar team, or your fawning tech press. All of your assumptions, vision, business plans and pitches are irrelevant.
You've either built something worth paying money for, or you haven't.
One of the basic mistakes I made on my previous business was that although we had real users right from the start (just a month and a half into the development), we didn't charge for a year and a half. And therefore we didn't really start learning until a year and a half had passed.
I covered some of the issues with that in my article on fitting your product to the right market.
One good way to get over this hurdle is to work with a natural and competent salesperson. Salespeople will not shirk away from asking customers for money, right now, today.
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