So you’re ready to start investing your time in a product idea. You’ve worked hard, saved some money, cleared your responsabilities, carved out some spare time for the next few years.
You’ve got ideas! And you find that your best ideas have competitors.
Maybe you’re like Tydaljames who writes over on reddit (emphasis mine):
I’m a naturally creative guy. I like to make things. After working hard in my early adult life, I’ve put myself in a stable enough financial position that I can afford to spend the next 5-10 years creating something that hopefully will bring value to the world, and my wallet.
I have two main ideas of software that I think there is a real need for. Both are niche, and have competitors already in the field. (…) Would I be wasting my time? Should I continue on and gain experience along the way? Or should I look at other markets to take advantage of?
Would you be wasting your time investing in those ideas if there are competitors in the market?
- ←⚬ Don’t waste your time, because you’ll fight to gain market share;
- →⚬ Invest your time, because it means there’s a valid market;
- ←⚬ Don’t waste your time, because the hardest part of building a product is to build an audience;
- →⚬ Invest your time, because you’ll learn by doing it;
- ←⚬ Don’t waste your time, because most products fail;
- →⚬ Invest your time, because your idea’s biggest competitor is not other competing products, you’re mostly competing against people choosing to do nothing instead of purchasing something (non-consumption is your biggest competitor), and so you have a ton of market potential still;
- ←⚬ Don’t waste your time, because your competitor has a head start building tons of features;
- →⚬ Invest your time, because you could find what makes people hesitate to go with a competitor and you can make your idea better by underdoing your competition and creating just the features that matter.
- ←⚬ Don’t waste your time, because surely you’re going to make mistakes;
- →⚬ Invest your time, because your current decision isn’t to launch something, it’s to start the process of making products.
The Risk of Taking The Step
This is such an interesting situation you’re in. You get to decide whether you’re going to bring about something brand new into the world and test its value against the decision of real buyers. It’s an exciting time!
It’s also risky. You want to make an impact, add value to people, create a change in exchange for a good wage and a good experience doing it. But there are going to be difficulties, hard choices to make, and foggy spots where you don’t see where your idea is going.
So much is outside your control, really. But the control you have is to choose what to do today, to start the thinking process, and to clear your thoughts. Today, you’ll be starting to learn how to decide, a habit that will be useful your whole journey.
Here’s how I go about discerning what to do today forward – I imagine the end.
Imagining the End
Question #1: Imagine you’re 3 months from today (not 5 years, since that’s a little too far out.) You are 3 months from today and you’re celebrating. You’re celebrating because you’re satisfied of these past 3 months. What are you celebrating?
I’m celebrating having:
- Validated if there’s a market
- Learned about making a product
- Started creating a prototype
- Started having conversations with people
Question #2: If there’s only one of those statements that is really going to be true in 3 months and the other ones are only going to be a little bit true for your feeling of celebrating a success in 3 months, which statement will be the most true?
Learned about making a product
Question #3: Is there any way you can re-write that statement to be more true in 3 months, for your feeling of celebrating a success in 3 months?
Before the end of the next 3 months, I’ll have started learning the most important bits necessary to launch a product that will be a right fit for me at my stage in my career.
You’ll know that your statement is rewritten just right if reading it makes you feel like you feel like celebrating right now.
Question #4: Once you’ve got a statement for in 3 months that feels super true, imagine you’re at the end of today or this week. What are you celebrating? Can that statement from Question #3 apply to something you’ll celebrate by the end of today or this week? If so, what will be the smallest possible most impactful thing you’ll be able to do to say you’ll have advanced on that objective?
Before the end of today, I’ll have:
- Started learning the most important bits necessary to launch a product that will be a right fit for me at my state in my career. For that, I’ll have:
- Advanced on defining what a good product-fit for me would look like.
That sounds like a great place to start, actually.
Imagining the end helps me determine the most important, smallest possible thing I should be doing right now. I hope it helps you make your decision too.
If you feel there’s something to this method of writing objectives and you find it fits the way you think (especially if you like to think of all the variables for everything and you like to make lists), consider checking the free videos I published as part of the Change Anything Kit.