Last year, I committed to launching 4 new projects by the end of the year. I did succeed in that goal for the most part – I launched 4 new projects, including the Countism mobile app that has gotten some very good reviews so far. In the end though, I didn’t really feel that successful, and only felt like I had one really solid project.
The funny thing about a commitment like launching 4 projects in a year (or even 100 projects in a year) is that all the focus is on completing projects and getting them out the door, and no focus is on marketing and growing those projects, or acquiring paying customers – i.e. the things that will actually make the project sustainable and a real success over the long term.
As a result, any measure of success is ultimately fleeting. Sometimes it feels good to make things and maybe the practice is good, but the feelings of accomplishment are fleeting without real users, and the goal of creating so many projects itself prevents you from really investing more in any single project you make. If your stated goal is to make 100 projects a year, what do you do if project 23 shows early traction and promise? Do you justify putting in the extra time to push it above and beyond even though that means you might not hit your goal if you do that? Do you table it until the 100th project is done?
One Project For 3 years (or more)
What if instead of creating multiple projects in a single year, you focused all your energy on creating one project for multiple years? (aka: a Startup) This is a more difficult task, because you have to be a lot more careful about the project you pick. it requires a lot more up-front analysis and much deeper thought:
- Do you have a passion for the market that the product would serve?
- Do you have experience or significant inroads in that market that you could leverage?
- Does the idea have a significant enough competitive advantage to justify working on it for such a long time?
- Is it a product you see a clear need for, or one that you yourself would use frequently?
One project is more difficult, but it can be vastly more rewarding than running and maintaining multiple projects with little to no traction or users.
A Short (Relevant) Story
Back in 2009, I built and launched InvoiceMore – an online billing and invoicing application. The original plan was to stick with it for several years, grow it, and then – who knows? What ended up happening in reality was that I built and launched it to little fanfare, very few users, and no paying customers. I hit the long, slow SaaS ramp of death, and instead of putting in the hard work to see it through to profitability, I got bored and all but abandoned it. I did eventually pick it back up a few years ago when I went freelance to do a lot of updates to the app and to give it a whole new look on the backend, but by then (2014), it was already too late. Several more very large and very good invoicing options exist in the market, and it is incredibly hard to compete with them in the invoicing space today. Beyond that – I’ve lost my passion for the market, so it is much more difficult for me personally to spend time building a product in the invoicing space now as my own startup.
I often wonder what would have happened if I had poured all my passion and energy into InvoiceMore from the beginning, and just kept at it every day instead of growing bored so easily. The feeling of a lost startup haunts me to this day. It makes no sense to spend so much time and energy building a project only to jump to the next thing when things get difficult or out of your comfort zone.
My One Project
My one project this whole year, and probably at least for the whole next year too, is ChurchMint. It is a project that I saw a need for and started in 2012, but was never able to keep working on it due to my involvement in Brightbit.
To keep myself accountable to my goal of slow and steady work on only one project, I have committed to releasing one video per week as I am building the platform with updates and progress on where I am at. It is definitely outside of my comfort zone to do this. I have already released the first and second videos if you want to watch them and/or subscribe and follow along. Let’s see how this one turns out!