The Lean Startup
At the heart of every successful startup is a simple iterative three step process: build, measure, learn. You must apply this process until you meet the criteria of value and growth. The value criteria tests if your product solves a real problem for the users. Before putting in significant work, you want to make sure that you will build something people want. This requires getting the product into the hands of at least a small group of customers.
The growth criteria validates that the product can catch on. It’s what you need for the product to gain customer and achieve the often dreamed of hockey stick growth. You don’t need to launch your product publicly to gauge this, but you must be willing to expose your product to an ever growing audience.
Without meeting these, all the marketing and planning in the world will only get you a false sense of security. Once they are met, you are ready to launch, start spreading the reach of your product, and iterating on features. But continue to use the same process for every change you make.