DeveloPassion's Newsletter - Small and riskless bets

DeveloPassion's Newsletter - Small and riskless bets
By Sébastien Dubois • Issue #31 • View online
Hello everyone! I’m Sébastien Dubois, your host. You’re receiving this email because you signed up for DeveloPassion’s Newsletter. Thank you for being here with me ✨
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Welcome to the 31st edition
Another week, another newsletter! I hope that you all had a great one 🤩
This week I’ve started brainstorming with a new partner in crime. André and I are going to build a small Note-taking & productivity-centric app. Nothing earth-shattering, but this should be fun! 🎉
I’ll tell you more in a week or two! Today, I’ll just focus on the approach and my rationale.
Let’s dive in!

Small and riskless bets
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.
After having lost 200K € due to opportunity cost with my previous SaaS startup, I’ve decided to be much less ambitious with new projects.
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:
🍰 Only 4 out of 70+ projects I ever did made money and grew

📉 >95% of everything I ever did failed

📈 My hit rate is only about ~5%

🚀 So...ship more
When you realize this, you can’t argue that making small bets is a much better way to go. We get to explore many more ideas in a much shorter time frame, and we can quickly sense what works and what doesn’t.
So, there you go, that’s my one piece of advice for today: don’t fall into the same trap as I did. Avoid being too ambitious right away. Instead, make small and riskless bets. Explore more ideas, and focus on getting those out the door as quickly as you can. That way, you’ll invalidate your assumptions faster, and you’ll be able to move on to the next project.
Recent articles
This week I’ve published two articles. The first one was a guest post by Yennick Trevels a fellow software craftsman, who share his ideas about why craftsmanship matters. The second was an in-depth article about Angular 13, which has been released earlier this week.
Why Craftsmanship Matters
How cool is that?!
This one is for techies!
This week, a new feature has been announced for Lighthouse: user flows.
Previously, Lighthouse was only able to audit a single page. Now, we’re able to record complete user flows (e.g., login, search, add something to the cart, etc). Once a user flow has been recorded, Lighthouse can execute it and audit the performance of the whole flow.
This is a tremendous step forward, and it is the coolest thing I’ve discovered this week!
You can learn more about it here:
Introducing Lighthouse for user flows: drive your page with a Puppeteer script and have Lighthouse measure and audit performance at every step:
Tips of the week
Sébastien Dubois
Here's a life changing tip: take more notes every day ✍️

Write down you ideas, your thoughts, things you learn, things you learn.

It's only the first step, but it can already have a big impact.
Books corner
This week I want to share the book I’m reading for the second time: How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens.
I’ve actually already recommended this book in my newsletter, but it is really so good that I can’t help but put it forward once again.
How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking
Quotes of the week
  • “I never lose. I either win or learn (Nelson Mandela)
  • "Learning to write is learning to think. You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing” (S. I. Hayakawa)
Links of the week
Here are a few links that I found interesting this week:
Google, Mozilla close to finalizing Sanitizer API for Chrome and Firefox browsers
That’s all folks!
Send me some ❤️ by sharing the link to my newsletter with your friends:
With your help, others will also get a chance to discover it. The more, the merrier ✨
I’m really interested to know what you think of this newsletter. If you have remarks/ideas/articles/links to share, then please don’t hesitate to reply to this mail or send me a DM on Twitter.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Sébastien Dubois

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