The first step to creating a product is to take the time to plan. This plan does not have to be elaborate, but you need a plan if you are going to be successful.

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.

– Dwight D Eisenhower

This quote means that when you have a plan, things don’t always go as expected, however by having a plan you are ensuring you’ll know what to do when things change. It’s easier to edit a plan that exists rather than not to have a plan at all.

I have found when I jump into things without having a plan I end up wasting time. To launch on time and meet my deadline having a plan is a must.

Do Research

I did some research on people who have built online courses and looked for unexpected things I may have to face. As a part of my research, I completed many online courses. Usually, I study their onboarding process, advertising methods, pricing as well as the format of the course.

I also found many people were using online learning platforms such as teachery or teachable.

In the past, I’ve even gone as far as to create a free course on an online learning platform just to get a grasp of the process. The course helped in not only collecting feedback for the course material from people that went through the free course but also allowed me to take note of what students of online courses expect.
Some expectations I found were:

  • Students want the ability to be a part of a community
  • Students want to go at their own pace
  • Incorporating video and audio are extremely valuable
  • If a video is used students want a written version of the content as well
  • Students want a hub to log into where all the content can be accessed.
  • Order and organization of content is critical

The best research is to find competitors in your niche and become a customer and make note of what they deliver on but also make note of their shortcomings.

Write an outline

These have to be actionable tasks, not general ambiguities. I have found if you want to get things done you can’t generalize them. You can’t say something like “I am going to write a book, or I am going to build an online course.” Those statements alone are too ambiguous and large which can be a bit intimidating. If you’re going to write a book, then you have to break the book writing process down into smaller more manageable in actionable steps so that you will take action.

For example, if you were going to write a book about business start thinking about surrounding topics. Business has marketing, employees, payroll, advertising, marketing, sales, accounting, and other items. The next step would be to decide what subject(s) the business book will focus on. Then write sub points for each topic, if we were to include a section on payroll some subpoints could be: accounting, taxes, federal paperwork, payroll software, etc. Once the sub points are written out, then you can begin to see your book start taking shape by chapter.

The more you outline, the clearer the possibility of finishing the task becomes.

ToDo List or Checklist

Make your life easier by using project management tools. A free solution stand which stands above the rest and proves to be very easy is Trello or Asana. These both allow you to create a digital to-do list, set deadlines, checklist and integrate with calendars and reminders. Both have mobile apps which allow you to take the list wherever you go.

Writing out a to-do list format will help you build momentum and capture the progress you are making. Most people view progress as finishing a project. However, there are many mini-steps along the way which represent progress as well.

Set Deadlines to Create Urgency

Set a time limit for your tasks. Some will take longer than others there’s something about creating a to do list that motivates people. Writing all the steps also allows you to see where you need to hustle and that you don’t have time to relax if you want to meet a specific deadline. After you have all the steps noted give set deadlines by choosing a launch date and then work backwards from you, launch date to give every task a proper deadline. When doing this, you’ll see how quickly you need to finish a particular task to meet the deadline.

An idea without a deadline is just a dream

– Aaron Dowd, The Podcast Dude

To make your dreams into a reality you have to hustle, the same goes for your product. It may not be easy but it’ll be worth the investment of time when you’re on the other end and your product is complete.

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