"all that can be invented has been invented" syndrome, how do you deal with it?

Let me clarify, what I mean is that there is less and less market space for ideas that a one-person army can develop, or at least start developing, by themselves. It's physiological that the industry will eventually completely move away from the "garage type" startups (for lack of a better word) but, are we really already there? Is it time to give up?

Part of the equation is the fact that if anyone can do something, it becomes almost impossible to make a profit out of it. Typical example, virtually every library, even the most obscure ones, of every single programming language has 10+ established courses on Udemy with thousands of votes. Could you make a better, more updated course? Sure you could, but a quick risk–benefit analysis makes it clear that it's not worth the effort.

This goes for a lot of things and it leads to my next point, the local vs global dimension. There is this duality, especially in the broad field of software, where locally you don't need to be literally the best, to have a good career and achieve something. While globally you are always competing against the whole world and you need to be at, and possibly over, the state of the art of whatever you are working on, which in most cases requires to be extremely specialized, to have even a small chance to be recognized, to be somewhat useful for others.

I'm really curious to read how you, fellow Indie Hacker, feel about this and deal with the nihilistic feeling that the world is strangling our space of existence. Except you, captain obvious who are going to write "there is a lot to do!", we all know that, you can spare the effort. 😃

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    I feel as long as people exist we will have some sort of issue, as long as we have issues we will pay people to solve them. A business idea isn't this hallowed thing everyone makes it out to be.

    Finding a working idea is actually pretty simple. Finding an idea for a problem that you would like to work on is a different problem. Assuming you don't care about what you work on, I'll list a couple of things I have been waiting for in the market that I personally haven't seen yet.

    1. A no-code chrome extension builder. It has literally been 7 months since I made this post https://www.indiehackers.com/post/software-engineer-looking-for-reliable-saas-ideas-53bf541346?commentId=-MGsj6sIJ0jzfAPWz2oZ and I haven't seen anyone actually put anything out yet. Businesses like Closet tools, Gmass, Streak, Honey, and more recently Toucan are all thriving as chrome extensions. There currently isn't an easy way to make them.

    2. I want a google assistant type application for working out. I want to have it record my workouts and my reps and all I have to do is say the workout and reps out loud. I have my wireless headphones in my ear anyway, I'd like to talk to a workout assistant who can jot down my exercises, tell me my comparison to the last time I worked out, and maybe even a food tracker that it can use data to tell me hints for improving. In my mind, I imagine him/her a little sassy. Like we can pick a personality of emotional support and encouragement, or light teasing and motivating me beyond my limits.

    3. There is no way for me to buy a physical gift for someone long-distance whose address I don't know. If I don't know someone's address all gifts have to be virtual right now. But what if I could send anyone a link to an item online saying I want to get this for them. They confirm by putting in their address which I don't see, and then I put in my card information and it arrives at their house. Amazon wish list is the closest thing. However, I would have to only get something on their list, and that is assuming they have an amazon wishlist.

    4. This one probably shouldn't be taken as seriously as the first two, but I want it. I want a drag and drop website builder that just works with absolute positions on the screen. I want to rebuild my website for every screen separately. I don't want freaking flexbox change or the column systems. I simply want to make the same front end 5 times for the most popular devices and ratios. If a drag a button somewhere, I want it to be there and stay there. It would detect if one of the ratios I support is there, if not it would just tell the user we don't support you. I am 100% fine with that outcome.

    I am stopping there, but I can literally go on for days. I don't want this to sound wrong, but most indie hackers must be living perfect lives with no issues to never come up with any business ideas. These are all problems I would pay for it to go away and there are plenty more where that came from.

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      Hi Jonathan, thanks for your answer. It means a lot to read the point of view of someone with a similar mindset, yet such a different opinion on the subject.

      When you speak about Chrome extensions and you say they are the "gold rush", how do you even get this information? I don't mean in this specific case, I mean in general.
      It seems to me that by the time someone tells you on the internet that "X" is the gold rush, it means that the gold rush was actually over a long time ago.
      For example, I just found on the Chrome Web Store three extensions, three, for a rather obscure and unique problem that we have here at home. Every time this happens, and it's really happening all the time lately, it throws me in a negative state of mind unfortunately. You are an inventor yourself and you know the adrenaline rush you get when you think you've just found the next thing to build. Having this crashed within a five minutes Google search over and over and over again is quite tiring.

      You had great examples by the way, I didn't know Toucan and it seems like a really good product. 😃

      Regarding the training Google assistant app, it actually leads to another point that is in my mind a lot. I've had exactly the same idea many times in the past, you also had it. I know this is a bit forced from a strictly logical point of view but we can safely assume that a good percentage of people who ever used a training app asked themselves the same question. Why isn't there a voice-driven version of it? The answer that I quite often give to myself is that there is normally a very good reason for it. I am speaking more in general now, when you do find something that is not done you can also very quickly find very good reasons for it not being done; typically because it would never be profitable, there are privacy or whatever other legal implications etc.
      Back to your specific example, with a 5 seconds Google search I found a scientific paper where 72 voice-activated gym and fitness apps are studied. Seventy-fucking-two. Now I don't know which they are and I don't know if there is anything even close to what you meant; but the sheer amount, the ocean we are constantly trying to empty with a spoon as independent developers is just overwhelming for me sometimes.

      I agree when you say that it's possible to find things to do, but much more difficult to find things that are actually worth doing as a single practitioner.
      Even the freelance work tends to be more and more about connecting and integrating things that already exist, rather than creating something new.

      As I said, perhaps it's just my own point of view that is skewed right now; I really hope so and I'm kinda begging you good folks to change my mind. 😁
      I guess a very good point that can be made is that the great Chrome extensions that you named didn't exist until some time ago, somebody did create those! How to get there at the right time and preferably before everyone else is still a mystery to me 🙈

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        Okay first let me start by saying I think you and I are more similar than I first thought. I don't believe you have an idea problem, I believe you have a faith and confidence problem.

        Being a one-person company surrounded by people with more resources and head starts can feel very daunting; I know this feeling well. However, it is often faith in either the founder of themselves or faith in their view on an idea that keeps it alive.

        Without belief in any project/idea/ your own ability, you will always convince yourself out of doing something. Ideas and businesses, in general, are default dead, nonexistent. We as creators are trying to bring businesses to life.

        We not only need to convince other people that there is a problem but also convince people that we have the solution. If we don't believe we have the solution ourselves, we will never convince others.

        Some words to build your faith:

        • Imagine if AJ didn't build https://carrd.co/ because squarespace already existed.

        • Imagine if Shola Akinlade didn't build Paystack because Stripe already existed. (Acquired by stripe)

        -imagine if Cortland didn't build indiehackers because people were already sharing their revenue on hacker news!

        I could go on, but you get the picture. Something existing doesn't mean it's the best solution that can be built for the problem. You also can uniquely market something to get an edge.

        Imagine posting videos to tick-tok of your robot trainer calling you weak for not hitting your push-up goal. That could be funny! All in all there are multiple ways to solve a problem and make money from it.

        To answer the chrome gold rush question. I heard it from an indie hackers podcast https://www.indiehackers.com/podcast/079-julian-shapiro-of-bell-curve which came out 2 years ago. He owns a successful growth agency, and he said that there was very little friction to getting them installed.

        In a recent myfirstmillion episode (I don't have time to find it right now) Sam mentioned that the Apple apps store and the chrome webstore both reached 1.5billion + users I believe. However, the chrome webstore has 10% less apps than the app store.

        Besides those things when I think chrome extension I think this:

        • Very little hosting and infrastructure cost and maintenance because it runs on the user's browser.

        • Can literally be built to interact with any website on the internet. You can hack together features on top of websites that already exist ( Hence Closet tools)

        • People can find your app from search results in the chrome webstore.

        Those all make me pretty bullish on extensions.

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          After replying to this post I found your views are so similar to mine @adroitboss cheers!

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          Thanks a lot for the encouragement and the patience to read my bullshit 😂
          I actually didn't notice until now that there is some kind of collection of podcasts here on IndieHackers, I'm quite new here. I'll make sure to follow some of those to get a better feeling of "what's going on". Which are the best ones according to your taste?

          And yes, the whole idea with Chrome extensions and being able to build on top of, well, anything really is quite powerful and probably not fully exploited.

          1. 2

            I think the indie hackers podcasts are great. The best insights are all kind of scattered. Notable ones for me are peter levels episode, patio11's (somewhere in the first 20 episodes and below) , the bell curve episode, and the drop catching website episode ( I think it's number 34).

            Also, no problem man I hope it all works out for you!

  2. 3

    Thanks for all the comments here. After my first attempt failed at solving a problem, I have felt a loss of confidence and a sense of being too naive (dumb?) and have fallen into the trap "that will never work", "it's too hard" for every pivot I think of. I am very afraid of not getting it right this time or not knowing how to execute well - So like @andyvalerio I question a lot more. I am getting out of the tunnel, building again, but I can't help but admire all of your mindsets and positivity I had forgotten. @adroitboss "Without belief in any project/idea/ your own ability, you will always convince yourself out of doing something. Ideas and businesses, in general, are default dead, nonexistent. We as creators are trying to bring businesses to life." nicely said.

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      Hi Laurence,
      thanks for this message, it actually gave me a good insight.
      I invented QR-code based restaurant menus several years before the corona craziness made it a necessity and as much as I struggled and pushed I just wasn't able to push it into the market just with my own strength.
      So basically my invention worked, it's in almost every single restaurant in the world now, just not the version that I created. Instead, the war (there was never a battle to begin with) was won by countless IT companies creating shitty versions of this for every restaurant, billing thousand of hours and milking the cow as they please.
      Didn't think about that in relation to my current "negativity" but I guess it makes sense that these two things are related.
      Thanks for writing and good luck to you!

      PS- Yes, I now have PTSD walking into restaurants 😂

    2. 1

      Thanks, I wish you all best in your next venture!

  3. 3

    I think the beliefs you're describing fall under "scarcity mindset" — beliefs about there not being enough out there in the world or that you yourself are lacking needed qualities. Personally I think it's useful to inquire into those beliefs and ask, "are these thoughts and feelings I'm having absolutely true? How do I know?"

    One objective fact to help: there are billions of people on the internet and billions more are going to come online in the next decades. Of those billions of people do you think indie makers can't find problems to solve among a subset of them that larger businesses won't touch?

    Another fact: there are thousands of people on this very website that are making successful solo businesses and thousands more who aren't on this website. So there is some empirical data.

    Another fact: you yourself have a unique and special perspective and experience that no one else on the planet does and this gives you an advantage in being able to see and understand opportunities that others don't.

    1. 1

      Hi Glen,
      I was speaking about scarcity mindset just this morning and it's quite enlightening that this could apply here, when you frame it this way.

      About the first fact, the abundance of people, I never said there aren't problems to solve. Thing is, take a field like medicine. Lots of problems to solve there, but medicine is a very established field that has been with us since the dawn of man (quite literally). A new drug that saves the world is not going to be invented by a practitioner working in his basement; COVID vaccines are a clear example of this.

      Every market eventually leads there; standardizing, industrializing, "professionalizing" in a way.
      Take the automobile industry. You don't have some guy in their garage inventing the Tesla cars. Is there still space in that field for the "Indie Hackers"?
      Of course there is, but it's strictly limited to the fringes of the market. Sure there is some genius mechanic sitting in their workshop being able to repair any car you put in front of them. There are some people like that who refuse to work for the big car corporations and it's great; but it's also sad 'cause this is where we are going to be, eventually, in "x" years whenever IT reaches that level of maturity.
      So I'm not worried there isn't work to do, I'm worried the space for inventions is shrinking. 😣

      The second point you make about there being thousands of people who do make a profit doesn't really hit home, a few thousands over 7 billions is really, really the top of the top.

      Your third point is the most convincing to me, it's true that each of us has a unique and special perspective and experience and this makes us able to understand, and perhaps help, at least some subset of people at a deeper level that a big corporation can never achieve.
      Thanks for the contribution and for making me think about the mindset.

  4. 2

    Hey @andyvalerio nice read! I won't start with "there is a lot to do!" to save my effort as you already mentioned. 😀

    What my point of view here is, there is nothing in this world which can be perfect or, if not, perfect for everyone out there.

    Facebook was providing everything, from images to videos to text sharing, then why another social media which only allowed images (initially) became so popular? Simple, it catered to the need of another segment of the market.

    When I had the idea of Botflow back in 2016, I was on a job that didn't allow to spare time for side projects (and I didn't have enough runway to leave job and start it). Later I found lots of similar products coming in market and some even got funding to the amount of $8M! Reluctantly, I started Botflow VERY late in the beginning of 2020 and now have few customers using it. You know what the customers who uses it say? Your tool is very intuitive. Which I myself never realised until they said. Why? Because I was building the chatbot builder not an "intuitive" chatbot builder (specifically).

    What I inferred from the above incidence is that no matter how many people are already doing it, no matter how big your competitors are, there would be always a part of the market which needs YOUR innovation. So keep hustling, with nihilistic attitude or without, because the world needs more innovators and more dreamers. 😊

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      Thanks man for the really positive answer, you gave me hope!

  5. 2

    Is the world perfect, and are everyone's lives perfect without any problems or inconveniences? No, so there is always room for improvement.

    Some people think they need a new idea to have a reason to build something. Very, very few companies are based on new ideas, but rather better iterations of existing ideas.

  6. 2

    I don’t really have the energy right not to go into this at great length but n summary, I completely disagree.

    Your example of there already being more than ten courses and they are ALL successful and ALL have thousands of upvotes; that in itself is a case FOR doing another course. If 10, 15 or 50 courses can all be successful then why not 11, 16 or 51?

  7. 2

    Everything < 10% of the profit of a company is out of scope. Therefore if you can find what a billion dollar company like salesforce don't want to do, you have a business. Regarding one of the comments about not being able to create a vaccine to covid, yes you can't but < 10% are adjustable beds seperators (basically a curtain on wheels) which are required to seperate the many beds. Painted masks. Etc... everything the big comp don't want to do.

    1. 1

      Never thought about it this way, what an original insight. Do you have some good sources where I can read more about this?

      1. 1

        Cant find the exact article but at saastr.

  8. 1

    We’re and won’t going to change the world, but we’re making it better every day.

    What separating us is usually culture, language and distribution. We will see new invention and old invention circulating in various ways.

  9. 1

    Although I must admit I also sometimes feel there's nothing new that can be brought to the table in terms of software innovation, I try to think of the fact that nothing is perfect. You will always find something wrong about how this one app or that one website does not fulfill its task as well as it should, makes another problem rise, does not work well enough in terms of UX, does not look good enough or simply reminds you that some features could be added to improve the whole product. Or sometimes, you might also think about one problem you come across when browsing the Internet and for which you don't know the solution. Either this solution has not been invented yet, or an app has already been launched to solve this problem, but no one knows about it, or it has this small flaw that makes it imperfect. Either way, that can be your time to shine and launch your product.

    This might look like you'll have to fight your way through this entrepreneurial jungle, and that might be overwhelming at times, but keep in mind that we're all in the same boat.

    I hope these few words help :)

    1. 1

      Hi Jimi,
      yes, they do help. Thanks! 😃

  10. 1

    I don't believe that, If that's the case then there wouldn't be problems which people want startups to solve.

  11. 1

    Sveltekit has just been announced go make a course with that, svelte native is probably not exusted yet either I'm guessing
    There's always new stuff if you care to look
    You might be looking back instead of fwd, many have taken bets on the future right or wrong...

    Doing something no one has done is only one way
    Doing something gone that wasn't done yet is another
    Renewing something outdated is another
    To have unique experiences you have to go out of the common path
    There was an IH YouTuber that showed finding niches by using job ads
    You might just have low self-esteem and motivation or self experience you can trust
    See if you can experience something like startup weekend

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