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Validate your ideas before doing anything vs actually doing stuff

Published on April 6, 2022

If you are on Twitter and follow the indie hacker community or any community about building something, you’ve surely come across the same advice over and over: before doing any work, validate your idea.

As far as I know, this comes mainly from the proof of concept Buffer did before starting their business.

The concept is to design a simple signup form as quickly as possible, try to reach the community you want to sell your product to, and see if people sign up for your product that doesn’t exist yet.

This is good advice, for most cases. But there are cases where this will never work.

Sometimes, people don’t know they need something before they see it for real, in action. A signup form will not be enough. The product has to be experienced.

For instance, when Slack was launched, it was expected that no one would want the product, simply because no one had experienced this kind of product before. The CEO even wrote a great email about this, We don’t sell saddles here.

If you sell a product based on a fake screen and a fake marketing promise, you will validate an illusion. You won’t show what your product is. How it feels for real. How good it is. The thousands of little details that actually give your product a personality. The real hard work.

Building a product is insanely hard. Validating the idea is as meaningless as having the idea itself. It's easy. What's hard is the work to actually make this idea a reality.

Once again, we have glorified the shortest path to success. What those Get rich quickly tweets really say is: validate your idea in one day, because you are excited about it, and because having ideas is exciting, and if it doesn’t stick, move to a new idea. All these are the easy parts, that you can do in a couple of days.

Most products work eventually, as long as the idea is not stupidly stupid–if the founder has enough energy to sustain all the very, very long months or years where you have trouble finding money to pay your rent or your food, while you create the product and market it.

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