Just because you can build it. Doesn’t mean you should
I’ve probably been burned by this at least 1/2 a dozen times. There are friends of mine who I know have/are doing the exact same thing (you know who you are). Here are the steps of a start-up in the mind of a technical entrepreneur:
- Come up with a fantastic start-up idea
- Look for a domain name (maybe buy it?)
- Tell a couple of trusted friends about it and why it’s going to rock
- Start building
There are many other steps past #4 but so many of my start-up ideas die within these steps. (sidenote: The ones that die after #2 are entertaining because I have the domains to prove the existed and took up brain cycles at extended period of time. )
#4 is where it goes wrong. It’s so tempting to just start coding. Even if it is just a demo, proof of concept, just to tinker with an API or something. Just stop. Just stop wasting your time.
Sure I’ve read about customer development and lean start-ups but my idea is different, right? Or I can do that after the demo is done, the customers can look at that…. then you just keep making updates and tweeks and before you know it… you’ve wasted way too much time on it.
My new belief is to not “build/code” anything until I have a pilot customer. I can do mock-ups, I can do wire frames, I can do workflows, but I should not code anything. Say it with me now “I shall not code anything until I have a pilot customer”. Without a customer you have no guidance of where this thing is really going. You are just wasting your time on assumptions. Time is a commodity, if I’m going to be serious at getting a hit one of these start-up ideas. I have to fail fast. I can fail a lot faster if I don’t start building until I really need to.
This may seem obvious to other entrepreneurs but having the chops to build things, is also a sickness of temptation to just build things.