You could turn to me and say, “Al, mate… this is a bit shit”, and I could say, “Yes, friend, I know! I already told you it was!” – Shit things I never completed
Ok, it’s nearly time to push the button on this thing. Some final thoughts before then …
This project has been put on ice multiple times over the last couple of years. Several of those are documented (either explicitly or by omission) in these posts. I’ve written and spoken about the importance of focus, about the perils of side-projects that struggle for attention and about unbounded commitments. But that doesn’t make it any easier when those things mean I’ve had to put my own work on hold.
Which is a long-winded way of saying: I’m delighted and relieved to have got through that and finally be at the start line. Even if it’s not yet as good as I aspire for it to be eventually, it’s more than ready for the world.
Here are the four things that have taken my time over the last few months:
The very last feature I wanted to add pre-launch was nudges. That is, regular reminders to update and share your metrics each month. Nik, who has been helping me with the development, once described One Metric as “like a spreadsheet with nags”. I like that. I’ve previously sent one-off emails to beta customers at the start of each month. That’s all automated now, with smart rules about who gets them and when, and with options to turn them off if they get too annoying. The first wave of these all went out this week. I hope people find them useful as they try to establish the habit of regularly sharing their metrics.
As part of this we’ve also made the option of weekly reporting more visible. When you create a new organisation in One Metric you can now choose either weekly or monthly reporting periods. If there are other periods that would be useful to you, please shout out - it’s pretty easy to add others now.
Up until now using One Metric has required you to know quite a few secret handshakes.
I realise that a blank page is daunting, and want to make it simple to take the first step. As much as I’d like to help each new customer individually, I needed to make it much easier to get up and running.
So, I’ve made a bunch of small changes in the app to try and better expose features. There is still so much more work to do, but hopefully this gets me beyond the embarrassing level and earns me the right to continue to improve it.
To help with this I’ve also integrated Intercom, which provides a support system (just click on the icon in the lower right corner of the screen to chat with somebody who can help - which is me to start with), some automation for on-boarding emails and in-app messages, and a help centre that includes instructions for getting started, some detailed help for specific tasks and also an articles section, where I’m starting to collect some of the things I’ve written about metrics and reporting over the years. We’ve previously used different tools for each of these things individually, but have decided to bring them all under one roof and that seems to be working well. Intercom also has a new “product tours” feature that we’ll use to provide a bit of a wizard to help people set up and start using their first report in One Metric. Look out for that.
Helping new customers get going once they’ve signed up is one thing, but actually getting them in the first place is another thing entirely.
We’ve overhauled the marketing site to better describe what One Metric is, who it’s for, and why we’re building it. I’ve always found that writing good words is much harder work than writing good code. So, it’s been great to have some help with this. Starting with Simon at StoryTech who helped to narrow down all of my thinking into a couple of useful canvases that describe the key messages. And then from Eileen, who has refined the words and turned them into designs for specific landing pages for businesses and for investors that I think look great and tell the story well. We’ve also added a Why we built One Metric page that summarises it all in a few paragraphs.
In parallel to that, Sian at KLP has generously given me lots of ideas for how we can promote One Metric, by helping people learn how to get better at metrics generally, and by telling the stories about how others understand, share and improve their own metrics. I’m going to be asking everybody I meet these questions and recording their answers. So, expect to hear a bit more about that shortly too.
I’ve also worked with Grace at Xero to get One Metric listed in their app marketplace. We’ve got nearly 50 organisations using the Xero integration now. I can honestly say that One Metric is the simple reporting layer for Xero I’ve always wanted, so I’m looking forward to making it available to other Xero users. I hope people like it as much as I do!
Finally, I’ve had to come up with an answer to the question I’ve asked a number of other founders over the years: how do we overcome our obscurity?
I got some great direct advice from Amanda when I spoke with her about how to approach sales at the start of this year. She pointed out that I first need to stop being tentative and start asking all of the people who I can reach to use it, to recommend it and to promote it. For a long time as I’ve been developing this, I have felt tentative about that. I’m over that now. I really believe that everybody I know and who follows what I have to say should take a look and use this tool. I’ve made it for all of you, and I hope you love it.
All for you!
What does all of this have in common? These are all the dull bits of turning a product idea into a potential business. Unlike actually building the app, which for me is fun and engaging, almost none of this work sparks joy. It is ultimately a waste of time unless lots of people find this product compelling and decide to use it.
When I look at it all now, all I can see are the bits that aren’t as great as I’d like, or where there are still obvious things to do. But, stepping back, I’m proud of what I’ve made, and I know that others will find it really useful with their businesses and investments, if I can just convince them to use it.
The first step is trying to get others to talk about this and help me tell the story. That starts tomorrow. I guess I’ll find out soon if what I’ve made is at all remarkable.