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

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In my hurry to launch my first product, an eBook called The App Design Handbook, I almost made a mistake that would have cost me over $10,000, a mistake that I see being made with products all around the web. Luckily for me, a few people were kind enough to lead by example and show how important it was to fix this.

A little over a month ago, we intentionally launched a very unfinished product. Functionality was missing, content was meager and many questions were unanswered, yet we opened the doors to real customers anyway, on a date we had scheduled months in advance.

If you're like me and many other entrepreneurs that I know, your mind never stops coming up with new ideas for your business. (Much to the chagrin of your sleep schedule.) You probably even have a system in place to captures all those ideas no matter where you are. Later, you then go through and decide which ideas are the best, most worth your time, etc.

When I first started working on my own business ideas, I didn't understand how important it was to do something unique. I borrowed other ideas without contributing anything new or noteworthy and then scratched my head when my implementation never took off. "Why is no one paying attention to my idea?"

There's a specific step every entrepreneur needs to take that isn't talked about nearly enough. The news likes to cover the "overnight" success stories like Facebook buying Instagram for a billion dollars or Angry Birds selling millions of copies, but they don't share the key first step that the people who built these stories took.

Twitter has been one of the chief catalysts of my business success. While I've wasted plenty of hours on the platform, I've also used it to infiltrate the "cool kid" crowd, perform market research, and stay ahead of trends in my industry & beyond.

Note from Caleb: This is a guest post by Nathan Barry, an accomplished iOS designer who builds beautiful apps. In this essay he discusses the positioning and differentiation lessons he has learned through the Apple App Store that are just as important across all kinds of entrepreneurship. He discusses why building something that helps people, pricing at a premium, and launching early were main reasons why he has seen so much success.

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm trying to tell you not to do something I did for years. Obsess over traffic. Or at least traffic volume. I'm sure you've heard it before, traffic isn't important, targeted traffic is. In this post I'm going to give you some very specific results that show how much you would be missing if you focused solely on traffic volume and not at the type of traffic you are getting.

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