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Nikolas Barwicki - Javascript Blog Nikolas's Blog

Indiehacker's Log #1

/ 6 min read

Pursuit of the Billion-Dollar Idea

Starting your own product or Software as a Service (SaaS) enterprise begins with the quest for the right idea. You may believe that this idea will be the main pillar of your future success. You might find yourself generating a new idea every few days, but simultaneously convincing yourself that each one isn’t good enough, and thus, not worth pursuing.

At this point, you’re likely not aware of the need to change your perspective and approach to problem-solving.

After weeks or even months of searching for this metaphorical Holy Grail, hopefully, you land on an idea you genuinely believe in, and you start working on it straight away.

A Series of Missteps

Unbeknownst to you, there are still numerous mistakes and failures waiting for you on your path to success.

Nonetheless, at least you’re progressing.

You’re wholly engrossed in making your dream idea a reality. Ninety-nine percent of your focus is on building the product. This typically involves writing lots of code using “bleeding edge” technology. You may be so absorbed in this process that you overlook crucial aspects such as users, marketing, and sales, all of which are vital for evaluating the viability of your idea.

Verifying the Idea

There’s a lot to say about building products with a singular focus on the construction process, often in isolation, without any opportunity to verify if it’s worth investing your precious time in this endeavor.

But let’s fast forward to the point where your product is almost finished. You’re probably ahead of 90% of other Indiehackers because most of them find it difficult to build anything from scratch. Most, including me, lose interest in their project halfway through, and they quickly jump to the next idea, which will likely be abandoned just before it’s ready for the first users.

During the course of building your first projects, you research the market and your potential competition. The more detailed your research, the quicker you realize that your billion-dollar idea isn’t unique. This discovery can be distracting and disheartening, especially when you see there are many similar products out there. It becomes clear that even a billion-dollar idea isn’t sufficient to build a profitable product.

It’s time to pivot.

Lessons from Mistakes

At this point, you’ve learned that the path to success is riddled with constant failures, and the key is to glean invaluable lessons from them. You’re continually reevaluating and modifying your assumptions. Remember, you still don’t have even one paying customer.

You remain on the hunt for new, better, and more effective strategies.

I believe I’m at this stage right now. I’m leaning toward validating the idea without building anything yet. Simultaneously, I’m trying to solve my own problems, hopeful that I’m not the only one facing them and that someone would be willing to pay for these solutions.

Validating Ideas without Building

I had another idea. I knew it wasn’t a billion-dollar idea, primarily because it catered to a small niche and offered very specific solutions. Like many SaaS ventures, I began by building a simple Excel spreadsheet that somehow addressed the problem - let’s call it the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

I found subreddits where my target users hang out. Without much thought, I prepared value-packed posts with links to the waitlist and my Excel spreadsheet. I was confident this was the place to find most of my future users. If they didn’t find the idea useful, it wouldn’t be worth pursuing. Meanwhile, the solution was working perfectly for me; it was a long-term goals planning framework I’d been using for over two years. Additionally, there was virtually no competition in this field.

A few days and thousands of views later, I had five email addresses from the form, including my own for testing. It was a complete flop, but at the same time, a great success. It saved me from past mistakes. I hadn’t wasted a single minute building an app that no one would use.

Doubts and Challenges

I’m in a comfortable situation. I have a full-time job as a software engineer, which I enjoy. I like working with my colleagues and focusing on work projects. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s good because I don’t feel pressured to build a project or change jobs. However, it’s also bad because this comfort reduces my motivation to work hard in the evenings and weekends without any guarantee of success.

I view these challenges as levels in a video game. To move to the next level, you must defeat all enemies, solve all problems, and improve your skills. When you reach the next level, you face the same problems, but often with increased difficulty.

Next Stage - Deliver Something Tangible

As you can see, my previous attempts weren’t hugely successful. However, they were valuable lessons and an essential part of the process. I believe that without these experiences, future victories wouldn’t be possible. It’s important to remember that everyone’s journey is unique, starting from different levels with varied skillsets and experiences.

Now, I’m trying something completely new. I need to build something complete, from start to finish, to prove to myself that I’m capable of such an achievement. Without considering marketing and sales (but drawing from previous experiences), I need to create a product that I firmly believe in, something that brings me joy to work on. Once the MVP is delivered, I’ll focus on the next steps.

My Current Project

The app I’m currently building is, once again, designed to solve my own problems. It’s a distraction-free text editor powered by an AI assistant. It won’t generate 1000 words for you with a single click. Instead, it helps you transfer your ideas, thoughts, and knowledge into an article in less time while delivering superior quality.

I’m writing this post using the alpha version of this app. I’m doing this to gauge how well it solves my problems and to identify improvements I’d like to see in the future. So far, I’m quite pleased with the results. It’s a pleasure to write anything, especially considering that I’m not a native English speaker and don’t particularly enjoy writing.

The app doesn’t have a name yet. My primary focus is deriving as much enjoyment as possible from the process. In future articles, I’ll delve deeper into my previous projects and the development of the app I’m currently working on.