If you are like me, a dreamer, somewhere in your life you desired that magic pill for freedom. Somehow there is that feeling that a certain idea or skill will make us achieve our freedom.
But let’s face the reality is not that easy, it requires a lot of self-discipline, self-control and vision. It all depends on our goals, but there is a chess game to play here.
More than that, it requires several skills and awareness that go out of programming scope. There is no magic pill to swallow, in fact this is like a prescription you will have to swallow some pills during some time.
Understanding your position
If you analyse your position, you are a privileged person. If you compare software with buildings, you are the architect, the engineer and the bricklayer.
You have the power in your hands to build a product from scratch, no matter the time you will spend. You have the technical expertise to materialise the business ideas into a product. Marketing, finance, design even business administration, it all could end in the digital product.
The message I want to pass, is that you by yourself can build a product to test an idea. Often to test an idea as fast as possible you must establish a MVP goal, MVP meaning Minimum Viable Product.
So you already have the tools and technical expertise. Let’s find some raw material to our building.
Finding that Idea
Finding the idea it’s an exercise that can go from 1 day, to months and even years. This is a path that you have to go from your own. If you are lucky enough you can find a shortcut.
The only advice I can give you to help out is to keep a journal close to you. Every time something comes to your head, take a note, let your ideas settle down and later bring that idea back again. Do some research and see if there is something similar.
Now, I see a lot of people thinking that the silver bullet to succeed is innovation. This is far from reality, innovation is not the most important thing in the world.
I can give you an innovation that will not solve any problem. Imagine that I will create a program to read books. Let’s insert a big innovation here, every page is inverted and now you read from right to left. This solves a problem? No, it creates a problem.
Facebook for example was not innovative, there was a lot of social networks out there. So why facebook succeed? The answer is in marketing, planning and feature engineer.
The way they restricted the access in the early days, the fact of investing in servers to have zero down time, all of that contributed to reach their goals.
So with all this ideas my major goal it’s to make you get rid of those excuses when you find an idea. This already exists, this is a waste of time, this is hard, just a stupid idea.
No bullshit, if you are passioned about the idea do some research, of course later you can find out that is better to quit, but at least you are doing some research and hopefully in this journey you will find that idea.
When researching about your ideas is important to establish some points.
- You have to grasp the position your product or services will fit in the market
- Possible partnerships you can establish with people or companies
- Have an idea of your business target
This 3 points can open channels for built-in features for client acquisition, monetisation and features.
The second step is to analyse competitors. If you don’t have competitors that is a good indicator. But don’t forget one thing, you have to grasp as much as insights out there as you can.
Let’s suppose that you find the major competitor and you detect a flaw in their business model. This is a good opportunity to fill that flaw and identify the goals of your MVP.
Building the Product
I’ve already expressed some ideas about this. It’s important to highlight the MVP mindset. Don’t fall in the temptation of building a super complex product without testing your idea.
Be consistent and disciplined about building your product. You must not rely on the motivation and excitement to build that product. You have to set the goal of moving 1 inch every day towards your goal.
The last thing I want to point out is code quality. Develop the MVP like you were programming in your daily job. Test your code, do a nice clean architecture and code. You will never know if tomorrow you have to hire somebody to help you out. Besides that you want to maintain your code and maybe do some quick tests to your business.
So you’ve found your idea, you’ve built your product, so great, so lean, flawless. Nobody knows about this product, so how they are going to use it? You get the main idea. You need to spread the word.
To do this you don’t need a marketing course. I’m not underrating marketeers, don’t take me wrong, they can do their magic like you do yours with code. What I want you to understand is that you can do the basic marketing, to start an online product or business.
Find communities where you can share your product, write blog posts, buy a book related to your product or business and make a contest.
If you find a way to incorporate the marketing strategy into your product it will be even better. For example give credits or points for every friend invited by an user.
This is the kind of awareness you want to train, one more pill to swallow.
How I’ve Swallowed the Pills, and How Can You Do It To?
I’ve been lucky enough to experience diversity in my career. The first job I had we were developing a product that at the time had a good idea behind. My boss was very excited about it, his eyes always shining and we were developing a consistent product.
He forgot one important thing, marketing. Zero investment in marketing and in 2 months we went bankrupt. First pill to swallow, marketing is important.
The second job was in a dating site that was just starting out. In opposition to the first company we were marketing aware. But there was a problem, low budget to apply to it. So we engineers took the bull by the horns and every week we discuss about marketing strategies, my luck I learned a lot.
Another job I had, I worked close with Product Managers. In this company there was a healthy culture of collaboration and transparency between the developers and PMs. Another pill swallowed, with them I learn to think strategically about the next features to release and about planning the product.
All this companies had one thing in common they were startups at the time. So my advice is work at least once at a startup. Low resources and high demands it will reflect in a huge growth, your growth.
Have you an entrepreneur fact hidden in you? What you will going to do next?