3 Lessons for Launching a Fitness Product (and Living Your Life)
Almost on this exact day one year ago I was at home, taking one of my breaks from work, laying on my sofa with a pen and notebook at my side – a simple practice responsible for most of my creative ideas. I was thinking about the workout plan I had made for my morning trip to the gym – a piece of paper with stick figure drawings of exercises I transcribed from a workout video on YouTube – and an idea for a website to simplify this very task came to me. Fast forward two months and I launched WorkoutLabs – a website that has since been used by nearly half a million people to build and print custom illustrated workouts. Concluding this very brief back-story, this post is about three simple principles I learned and followed while creating the Exercise Cards (an extension to the WorkoutLabs project I am launching this month) and that I try to apply in all areas of my life.
Ideas: Keep an Open Mind & Follow your Gut
Each of us has a certain vision of what we want our lives to be and overarching goals that we strive towards. However, we cannot know and should not try to foresee the road that will take us there – it only limits the possibilities and delays our arrival. The way we reach the destination, I believe, is by listening to and following your inner voice, your intuition. A big part of this is being open to and acting on ideas that come to you, those urges to do something, even if they don’t make sense to you or others at that moment.
Past experiences have taught me to keep an open mind and to trust my instincts, so when the idea for Exercise Cards came to me, I didn't have to deal with internal doubts about my ability to follow through (“I don’t know anything about producing and marketing a physical product”) or second guessing the idea itself (“Everyone uses fitness apps, who needs cards?”). However, I did and still do face others challenging and discrediting the concept. Let them. You have to believe that the idea came to you for a reason and that it is right for you in this moment in time. Ignore all that, follow your gut and act – it’s a road sign guiding you towards your goals.
Execution: Give It Your All
I am amazed at how many things are done at a level so far below their potential – from all kinds of products on the market, to apps, to films – everywhere! One thing all poorly executed ideas share is that they quickly sink to the bottom of ranked lists or off of them altogether. I truly think that most cases it wasn't that the people creating something couldn't do it any better, it’s that they didn't care to. But if doing something in a mediocre way virtually kills your chances of a success, why do it at all?
If I undertake something, I will do it to the limit of my abilities and often extend them by learning something new if I know it can be done better. With the Exercise Cards, every aspect of the project was thought through to create the best product possible – perfecting the cards’ design by testing various layouts, fine tuning shades of color, font sizes and line spacing; choosing durable plastic cards over paper that would get worn quickly and negotiating an extra layer of lamination on the tuck cases to make sure they last too. In the end, I am holding a beautiful set of cards that I really enjoyed creating and I know people will love too. To me, putting everything into whatever you are doing is just common sense.
Expectations: Let Go of Them
This one I am still learning. Being a goal oriented person and one that likes to feel in control of my life, I am inclined to set clear expectations when it comes to the outcome of whatever I am engaged in – this many visitors or subscribers at WorkoutLabs, this much revenue from my timer app, etc. I have set these type of performance goals in different areas of my life for a long time. However, my recent experiences have shown me that unless I think really big and am absolutely confident about the outcome (not there yet), it’s usually best not to have these predefined expectations at all.
If you set ‘realistic’ goals that will be fairly easy to reach, you won’t go the extra mile in your efforts and it’s unlikely you will have a big hit because you have limited the possibilities. If you set high and ambitious targets that are very unlikely, you will doubt your ability to reach them, you will stress (again sabotaging the possibility of a big hit) and likely end up disappointed when things fall short.
With my initial Kickstarter campaign for the Exercise Cards, I set high expectations about how many pre-orders I would get (way above the $18K funding goal) and stressing about it was a counter-productive distraction in running the campaign that ultimately failed. This time around, I did not set those type of expectations. Instead, I am focusing all of my energy on the quality of the campaign and my activities around it – a more concise presentation, high quality photos, simpler rewards setup, better promotion, etc. I am enjoying the process much more and looking forward to a successful result.
Keep an open mind and follow your intuition, do your best and let go of expectations – these lessons reach far beyond launching a fitness product and have helped me find happiness, success and fulfillment in various areas of my life. What about you? What are your thoughts on these three principles and do you apply them in your life?
About the Author: William (Artem Lapitski) Artamon
William is a New York based designer and entrepreneur with a passion for creating simple high quality products that make lives better. Founder of the ROQ design studio and creator of the popular Repeat Timer app, William now spends most of this time developing WorkoutLabs into the web’s highest quality fitness resource.
Find William on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.