I attended a founders speech by Philip Holt yesterday at Starter Studio. During the Q&A session, someone asked him about knowing when to launch, and I think his response was spot on.
There are many things you need to consider when first launching your product. We always hear about the MVP. But what is your MVP? Is it when you get all the features you planned on having implemented? Is it when you're bug free? Is it when the thing is just freakin' running?
Philip's response was this:
"You launch as soon as you have the 'IT' factor"
As soon as you have the IT factor, it's time to launch. And you only need ONE! If you have (or think you have) multiple IT factors, don't wait. Launch with ONE. There's a couple reasons for this.
1) You want to get your product in the marketplace as soon as possible. If you launch without your IT factor, you may pickup customers that have been waiting for your product only to have them figure out they've been waiting for nothing. But, as long as you have that one feature they have been waiting for, then they'll likely stick around for more.
2) You need validation. Maybe what you thought was your IT factor really isn't and you need to go back to the drawing board. There is no better way to get validation then to have customers (NOT friends and family) use it.
But what if you don't know what your IT factor is?! Then put the mouse down, back away from your computer, and start sending your resume out. If you don't know what your 'IT' is, you have more problems then just trying to figure out when to launch.
So quit sitting around waiting for everything to be perfect. Quit second guessing yourself on if your product is going to be successful. Put up or shut up.
If you're in Orlando, checkout Starter Studio: http://starterstudio.com/
You can also follow Philip Holt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhilipHolt