Where to Begin

A week ago, I didn't really know where to begin and ended up trying too many things at once. I started building a complicated software-as-a-service product, publishing an online coding course, planning another software-as-a-service product, starting a blog, learning to build an audience, hunting for more product ideas, reading founder stories.

After a few days of this, I was overwhelmed and became indecisive, so I went looking for guidance. It came in the form of a book called Just Fucking Ship. The title summed up exactly what I wanted to do, so I bought it, hoping it would help focus my efforts.

Fortunately, that's what it did! I've picked two products to begin with and now have a general idea of what they'll look like when they ship. They'll not launch with all the bells and whistles I'd originally planned – instead they'll ship with a small set of useful features or content, upon which I plan to iterate.

Product Idea #1 - Publishing a Programming Course

I started working on a course called "Sending & Receiving SMS Messages with Ruby and Twilio" but came to the conclusion this might be too niche. Instead, my first course will be about building static websites.

Building a static website is something I recently had to do for this website – researching which static site generator to use and the best way to deploy a static site. Why not turn this knowledge into a course?

My hunch is that there's a market for this, and I'll do some more research to confirm that's the case before I begin. I may switch to an ebook format to start with, followed by an online course.

Product Idea #2 - Building a Software-as-a-Service Product.

My first SaaS product would have been build on Stripe Connect Custom. Just the challenge of building it had me excited - I wanted to dive in and start coding!

Luckily, I came to my senses before a line of code was written. It would have been a large undertaking for my first attempt at a SaaS product and I hadn't done any market research, so I decided to start with something smaller.

Introducing product idea #2: Helpbase.io - a knowledge base web service to reduce customer service requests. This is a product I've needed in the past – in fact, I tried to build this a few years ago. It's not an original idea and there are companies offering this already, but I think there's room for improvement.

In the last few days, I've become satisfied that there's a market for this, filled a Trello board with tasks, and started building. So far I've shipped the basic sales website and the beginnings of a Rails app.

So, where should you begin?

Start with smaller products and ship the minimum feature set for them to be useful. I've picked the two I think are most likely to give me a win and ditched the nice-to-have features.

Start with a Trello board. I've gone from overwhelmed and disorganised, to having clear plans to ship. It's also kept me moving forward - if I get a little stuck or demotivated, I pick of a few easy, fun, or interesting tasks from the backlog to get some quick wins.

I'd also recommend Just Fucking Ship by Amy Hoy. It put me on the right track, and helped clarify what was necessary and what could wait.

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