This is one of my best pieces of advice for indie hackers.
If you want to start a real business (and not just be a maker) then you need to be valuable, not just useful or neat.
You might think, what's the difference?
One of the classic products of first time indie hackers is some sort of task management or time management system. They feel they have the skills to pull it off, and it would be useful for them because right now they are struggling to focus and get their tasks done.
Useful is great, and it's great for practicing skills. But, then these indie hackers publish and promote their tool as a product that others can use. Here's where things start to go wrong.
They think that because it's useful, that other people will want to use it. However, there's little value in a task management product. It's something that can be solved by so many other things - digital or physical. There's no value in solving that problem, because it's not a problem that needs to be solved.
Oh, so I should make a tool that blocks distractions then, because then they'll have an easier time getting their tasks done!
Wrong again. Useful, sure. Valuable? No.
(The same goes for uptime monitoring tools, most niche job boards, product directory sites, etc.)
So then, what is valuable? What makes something indispensable?
Summarizing, (B2B) people mostly only care about a few things:
Also (B2C) they care somewhat about:
In almost all B2B business cases, the first three things are the only things that matter. No business uses a product because it helps them fit in with the crowd, it's because the tool helps them make more money, save more money, or save more time.
When you're a business, if you can make more money then you can spend it to grow the business (ads, hiring people, contracting work, etc.). Businesses can use more time to grow the business. Businesses can use saved expenses to grow the business.
In summary, businesses care about growing their business. And if your product doesn't help them do that, then it's not valuable. It's not indispensable, it's dispensable.
The single reason that Closet Tools is successful is because the tool is indispensable. It's indispensable, because it is valuable.
Every month I get emails from users thanking me for making something that allows them to pay their bills, quit their jobs, spend more time with their kids, and put food on the table.
Every month, Closet Tools helps its customers make thousands of dollars in additional revenue, while only costing them tens of dollars a month. That's valuable.
Closet Tools helps its customers save time, make more money, and save money (by not having to use more expensive services).
As mentioned above, you want to make things that save people time, save them money, or make them money.
Here's my tip: don't just solve problems, be valuable in a market.
You want to serve a market, not just make useful things for anyone. You want to solve problems, but only solve problems where the core solution helps the users save time, make money, or save money.
This is how you make a product that people not only pay for, but they can't imagine living without. This is how you can build a long-term business that grows automatically, and people tell their friends about.
What do you think? Let me know below 👇