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Are you doubling down on what works?

Some of my favorite business (and life) advice of all time comes from Warren Buffett's business partner, Charlie Munger:

Do what works and keep doing it. That's the fundamental algorithm of life—REPEAT WHAT WORKS.

This is especially great advice for early-stage founders. We're prone to spinning our wheels trying a million different things, and we often find it hard to cut the cruft and focus on one thing (project, feature, use-case, etc.) that's showing promise.

What are you working on that you should probably double down on, or already have?

  1. 14

    For Indie Hackers, the podcast is a great example. It's almost always grown and done well. But instead of doubling down on it, I've used that as a reason to focus on other parts of the community that need more attention, which is antithetical to Munger's advice. It's been pretty rewarding to flip the script the past few months and spend more time on the podcast.

    Something newer might be the milestones feature. It's been growing a lot, and the instinctual reaction I feel in my bones is, "Great! That's taking care of itself, so now I should go focus on other things." But perhaps I should do the opposite. 🤔

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      One piece of advice I read in the early days of blogging was to focus on improving your weaknesses in your personal life, and focus on improving your strengths in your business life.

      This makes a lot of sense to me. You can't outsource your health, your personal relationships, your ethical development or your habits. In contrast, nobody can be good at every economically valuable craft and there's little credit for being "almost good enough to be employable in 20" but immense value having real expertise in a few or even one.

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      Don't spread yourself too thin. Start on one platform dominating it, and grow from there.

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    Roger Federer says the same thing. To quote:

    "I spend most of practice working on my forehand"
    "Why?"
    "It wins most me most points"

    I need to take this advice. For me it's growing Twitter has certainly went well! 1,500 last month from about 4 threads.

    Instead of messing around trying to force Facebook + Slack groups (not working) I should use that time coming up with really simple marketing tips just for Twitter.

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    Yes, doubling down on only selling to a specific type of customer profile instead of a more generic one. This has worked well for our business and plans are to Triple down on this :). On that note, we are also doubling down on increased pricing for new customers and will keep doing so every year.

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      What kind of business do you have?

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      Goes back to the basic: find your niche audience

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    I needed to hear this because often I'm chasing the next big thing, instead of focusing and growing on something that works.

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    Apt timing on this. I'd love to hear what others think - I'm currently exploring (validating/thinking through) a few (4-5) ideas. TBH, 3/5 of them are big problems I find worth solving and am fairly drawn to. I'm also not yet so attached to one that I'd jettison the others. I'm not even sure I want to pursue just one.

    Does anyone find themselves in a similar boat? What are your proven strategies to pursue more than 1 project/product, at least until you see strong evidence that everything else except one of them is crap?

    Put another way, I don't feel comfortable putting all my eggs in one basket, at least yet.

    1. 1

      I write blog posts to document ideas. If I think I may persue it or I think it's trully viable I might keep the post private but often I share them publicly. If I don't have time for it maybe some else will.

      I found reading Who Moved My Cheese informed my opinion of problems and ideas. I now try to frame everything in terms of Problem->Solution(s)->Action. In hindsight, as I write that I realize you're not having a problem with ideas or communicating.

      To address your challenge of narrowing down:
      1.) Think/document the market size. The larger the market the more likely it's successful.
      2.) Document IF users are willing to pay for a solution and if so how much.
      3.) Document the demographics (enterprise customers vs. individual users).
      Then, I'd suggest thinking and documenting the cross over between ideas. For example, if they all need user account & auth then that can be a shared service or you can use something like Oauth. That way, you don't have to commit just yet and maybe there's an opportunity to hack together a solution, try it, then switch to another solution without much wasted time/effort.

      Just my $0.02. I'm certainly no expert.
      I am, however, on disability so unable to work but when I am able to work I'm focusing on my own startup. Ping me if you'd like to bounce ideas around.

  6. 2

    I'm taking the opposite approach. I'm cutting off things that aren't working and trying new strategies. Hopefully, that will help me identify what works.

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      This is very essential! It will definitely let you focus on what's important.

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    Our Shopify integration for Zigpoll (https://www.zigpoll.com & https://apps.shopify.com/zigpoll). Our Shopify App has generated the most leads so far so we're looking into making the experience much better for Shopify store owners (built in checkout polls, poll templates, etc...). This way it becomes a turn key solution for any and all e-commerce related polling . Would love feedback if anyone tries it out!

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    Find your own playbook, basically

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    Most founders need to forge their own path since what everyone else does is dead or a legend. Nothing works without some viral component. Sales must grow without too much labor. I work on leads velocity at the moment. Technical people rarely can sell and this is where the product fails. We are perfecting cold email outreach. Building a huge audience is 90% of the task to success. A constant conversation with many 100 thousand readers weekly, is the secret sauce.

  10. 1

    I can't double down on what works b/c so far nothing has worked (only sort of an MVP) and on disability so I'm limited in the work I can do.

    But... I have setup a intranet (WordPress) and document for myself everything I do that is "scalable & repeatable". I figure by keeping those things in mind and documenting them it'll be easier when staff or contractors come on board and make it easier to double down on what works when something does work.

  11. 1

    I've had really good luck with writing in the Happyfeed blog and adding content to our "research" section in particular. It's easy to repost on social and add to monthly emails to drive traffic to the website from app users.

    However, I always have the temptation to build new features, because when you do find one that works, it can really work. Maybe 10-20% of new features end up having a meaningful effect on growth or retention. SEO and brand build over time though, so I have been actively trying to fight my product urges and stick to writing content. It's been effective - constant grow for the past 8 weeks in a row!

    Posting an interview here on IH was a huge part of that too actually.

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