The Failure Plan — First Product Series #4 (FS038)

The whole month of January we’ve put together a series of podcasts to help you think through making your first product. Omitting one important question from the myriad stories, best practices and advice…


Like Jenny Blake mentioned in her awesome story: it takes so much bravery to put a page up and ask people you don’t know to pay you money for something you’ve made.

So let’s talk about why that takes guts, why it’s a vulnerable to do this stuff… because failure is possible.

In this final episode of the First Product Series we want to walk through the idea of failure with you… help you navigate it. It’s not as scary as you may think.

What would make your product a failure?

What will you do if it fails?

If you sell exactly $0 on launch day, but make 30 sales over the next year is it still a failure?

The answers to these questions will help you make better decisions NOW… before the launch of your thing.

This is the fourth and final installment in the First Product Series. Throughout this series we’ve brought on successful business builders to share stories about making their first product.

It’s our hope that hearing these folks share their stories will help you realize an idea and a plan for your very own “shitty first draft” of a product to grow and improve over time.

(Find the other parts of the series right here: part 1, part 2, part 3)

I’ll ask you the same question I asked Corbett and Caleb: if you had these on CDs in your car, who’s interview do you think would listen to the most?

Guests on todays show:

Tara Gentiles — Business strategist and creator of the Customer Perspective Process for building truly social business models.

Brett Kelly — Founder and creator of Evernote Essentials. He literally wrote the book on Evernote (and it was so good Evernote hired him).

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I’m working to set my expectations up front and define failure on my own terms
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More From The First Product Story Series

  1. Finding The Idea for Your First Product
  2. Pricing Hangups
  3. Conversion Essentials
  4. The Failure Plan (this one)
  5. 13 Successful Founders Share First Product Stories

Show Notes

Writing Wednesdays: Sticking Points“Have you ever hit the wall? I have. Over and over. On any project–I don’t care how dazzlingly it starts out–inevitably the truck runs into a lake of goo.”

Know When to Quit, Pivot or Persevere (FS017)“We all face what Eric Ries calls the hardest part of any startup: deciding whether to quit, pivot or persevere. Why is it the hardest part?”

What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Business (FS016)“Some of our favorite indie entrepreneurs share their most important mistakes and lessons learned.” Our most popular episode of the show thus far.

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  • Nickolas


  • Heidi Thompson

    If you guys were Muppets – Chase would be Fozzy Bear (the natural comedian – wakka wakka), Corbett would be Kermit (the wrangler of all the other Muppets and what holds them together) and Caleb is Dr. Bunsen Honeydew (methodical and always testing things in his lab).

  • Chris Lysy

    I think all your intros have crept into my subconscious, so it’s possible that I’m thinking of something you’ve already used, but here goes.

    If you guys were characters from a classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Corbett would be Ranger Smith, the guy responsible for the park’s smooth operation. Caleb would be Boo-Boo, the soft-spoken voice of reason. And Chase would be Yogi, lovable, if not a little verbose, with an unparalleled desire for pic-a-nic baskets.

    I’ll be launching next week. Not exactly my first launch but I’m really nervous about this one. Wish me luck…

  • Roger Williams

    Really interesting topic. Although a little too “buttoned-up” for me. Chase was this episode accidentally sped up a little bit? Everyone’s sounds a little higher, especially Corbett’s.

  • Nate

    Fellas, thank you so much for putting out this content.
    Amazing quote from Corbett at the end.
    Also, Caleb. I feel like you’ve spoken up more on these last two episodes (especially FS037), and hearing more of your voice has been incredibly helpful. Having that product in your mind for a while and just finishing it so you can move on is basically the product I’m trying to launch right now. I’m definitely in “the dip” right now and trying to finish the last 20%.
    Also, if y’all were bagels/languages/VWvehicles/flavors of mustard/musical instruments/continents/letters of the alphabet/legends of the 80s/MTV VJs/Disney movies, what would you be?
    You would…Be well!

  • Tom Southern

    Is anyone out there capable of keeping these 3 in check and on track? Or is it mission impossible. Hey! Got me thinking: If you 3 were Mission Impossibles, Corbett would be perfectly formed Ethan “Cruising” Hunt, Chase would be Simon “Cheeky Chappy” Pegg and Caleb would be … Ving “Are They Dead Yet” Rhames.

    Hmmm …!

    Great episode. Cheers!

    • chasereeves

      Ha! Awesome, Tom :)

  • Dustin Baier

    This episode was awesome wish we had heard this when nearly gave up 2 years ago.

Up Next:

Pricing Hangups — First Product Series Part 2 (FS036)

Pricing is tough. No doubt. But we’ve got experience with it and in this episode give you the essential pieces of advice to make your thing and price it right. This is part two of a four part series on making your first product… to sell… to people who aren’t in your family.

The Sparkline — a blog for independent creatives and entrepreneurs building matterful things.

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