I have three short-term goals with the new app I’m working on:
- Develop something small without needless pressure
- Get to know André a little better and share knowledge/experiences
- Get better at UX/UI design
It’s what I would call a small and riskless bet. Whatever happens, I won’t have “lost” much money, and I’ll have learned a thing or two along the way.
My reasoning is that small and riskless bets are the way to go. There’s no need to build a large and complex product right off the bat. The longer it takes to deliver a first “sellable” version of a product, the riskier it is.
There are basically no upsides to building something big right away, apart from burning cash (which some people seem to enjoy doing):
- It takes much longer and thus costs a lot more
- It is much more complex
- It pushes us to rigidify the way things work and thus become less Agile
- Failing hurts a lot
Building something big right away is closely related to overconfidence. If we’re certain something is going to be a success, then we tend to go all-in. But the truth is that most startup projects fail. And when a project you’ve put a ton of effort into fails, it hurts. It took me a long time to get back on my feet after I’ve realized the project I had spent two thousand hours on was going nowhere.
Moreover, because of the sunk cost fallacy
, it’s harder to let go of a failing project. Once you’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and money into something, you don’t want to abandon it. You want to keep trying. Implement one more feature, fix one more bug. Hope one more day. But the longer it keeps going, the worse it gets!
Small and riskless bets are on the other side of the spectrum. With those, we invest little time, little money, and focus on moving fast. We still approach the work seriously and with all our energy, but we drastically reduce the risks involved.
With small and riskless bets, one can be bold and try many more things in much less time. It’s an approach that is actually recommended by successful entrepreneurs like Sahil Lavingia
, the founder of Gumroad in his latest book
(which I’ve recommended in the previous edition), and Pieter Levels
. Pieter summarized it well with this tweet: