Don't validate ideas, validate visions.

Startups and indie hackers talk a lot about validating ideas. So much so, that I feel many indie hackers, especially those less experienced, get stuck. Often they can't seem to find, choose, or validate up with an idea.

This often, and sadly, means they fall and get stuck at the first hurdle.

Then I look back at my experience and have known for a long time that I never followed a process of validating an idea. As a consequence, I feel I often find it hard to guide or advise people along that validation route.

Yet, I made a success of a business, doing things differently. Why?

But then, as all good things do, it came to me.

I don't validate ideas, I validate visions.

I have to believe in the vision of where I'm heading. That there is space to grow. Money to be made. Important problems to be solved. The specific problem is not as important as keeping an open mind to the picture as a whole.

The problems will change over time and we should be open-minded to that. Have that as a mindset so that you can change when needed. Accept the lifecycle of humanity and businesses.

Sometimes I feel being so focused on the idea, it closes your mind to the possibilities. However, if you have a vision in mind it will naturally work those muscles of looking at things from many different and new angles.

When I did Ministry of Testing, my vision was to change the software testing industry. Ludricous thinking at the time. But it led me down a consistent path of stacking those bricks, maybe not wall bricks, but bricks for paths. Each week, each month, each year I learned more. I created multiple paths, and crossroads. I kept exploring. And trying new things. Forging new paths and opportunities, to find what works.

I don't think we've ever got to the stage that we know what this Ministry of Testing thing is. It is forever changing, according to my vision, to begin with, now it is the vision of someone else.

I'm now on a new path. One of indie hacking and community building.

I'm really not convinced about the product ideas I have. They change daily. I don't want to validate anything. Right now I'm more focused on the vision I have for the future.

  • Is this something that I really want to do for the next ten years?
  • How can I explore?
  • Am I thinking about the right things?
  • Are specific ideas closing my mind to better ideas?
  • Does it bring joy and excitement?
  • Do I feel there is room for li'l Rosie to grow something?
  • Does the indie hacking and/or community world need me to do something?
  • Am I cut out for this?
  • Why should people care?
  • What is it I really need and care about?
  • Am I doing a little bit every day to work towards that vision?

Of course, validate an idea. If that is what you want.

I just want you to know, you can validate your vision too.

Choose the path that works for you. ❤️

  1. 9

    That's a very good post. Thanks for that.

    To me, a vision is an exploration of what I want to do in my life. I don't validate ideas either; I group them, till they become a cluster of idea. Then I look at the impact I want to have in the world, I look at the purpose I want to fulfill, and I see how it can fit together.

    From there, I should maybe validate something; I should look if enough people agree with my vision. Maybe I should send 1000 emails and, if I have 10% of answers, it's a validation. But I prefer keeping things simple. I don't want to change my vision to attract more people quicker.

    My audience is growing slowly, I help way more people than I thought I could help 20 years ago, and I'm not ashamed if I don't have 10000 followers on twitter or 2000000 people per month on my blog.

    It might not bring the financial "independence" everybody talk about, but I use part of my time on my own term, while trying to have a positive impact. At the end, not many people in history (or even in our world, today) can say the same. It's important not to forget that.

    The problem I have with money is its power. Each time I bring it in the equation, I want to take shortcuts. I want the money, fast, and I feel I could twist and distort my vision because of it. Bringing less quality, but more views. Each time I go in this way, I have to stop myself, because it's not what I want. It's a very personal opinion of course, and I don't judge anybody here trying to bring money. My point I guess is: experiment, learn to know yourself, and learn what you want to do and what you don't.

    Not sure if it makes a lot of sense :D

    1. 2

      Beautifully worded! 👍

  2. 2

    I love this, especially the bulleted list at the end. I've been going through a similar cycle of trying to convince myself of an idea/problem, but knowing it's not right.

    This reminds of of the Bret Victor "Inventing on Principle" talk, if you replace principle with vision: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUv66718DII

    1. 1

      That's a classic talk. Nice to see it posted here.

  3. 1

    Thanks Rosie for sharing. This is gold so I want to reply. Also to share with others.

    I also learned about the same thing over years. The "good" founders, in my opinion, know enough about a space, how things work, what is wrong, to craft a vision to make it better.

    I made the mistake of chasing after "let's find something to solve" and honestly that will never work. So now I'm not in a rush to start something, but I'm "constantly doing" things to expose myself to new experiences, the more I learn, the better the chance it will be for me to understand a space and discover my vision. Then go ahead to solve it.

  4. 1

    I thought this was going to be more of a post on refining a vision first before building a community.
    Luckily for me I have some evidence that validates my product. I'm not refining the vision to see if it resonates with my target community.

    "Technology can be used to address issues like loneliness. We just need to build the right tool. Help us build the tool people need."

  5. 1

    Nice! Mission and vision is first and foremost. We often get stuck in strategy and tactics (because it's cognitively easier to grasp when starting out) but the long term definitely lies in vision.

    It reminded me of Amazon's practice of writing a PR statement as well as the exercise of writing your own eulogy: you're setting your holistic goals first before going knees deep in execution mode.

    I can't say I always stick to it (my mind occasionally slips into making things for the sake of making!) but I like to give others the ability to make things, so No Code is an area I'm very much interested in long term!

  6. 1

    I really appreciate your perspective on this. I didn’t realize how limiting idea validation has felt to me until you put it into words here.

  7. 1

    Great post Rosie. I am at the exact same point.

    I want to help change the Future of Work. One maker at a time. A world where makers can make a good living out of it but also help other makers too.

    I want to help makers avoid recreating the same type of companies that made many of them hate their jobs but instead help them create the type of companies that they would love to work for. Companies that people have the freedom to pursue their passions, they are compensated fairly and more equally, they have space to create, make decisions and everyone is a owner. No boss, no hierarchy.

    Love the list questions you came up with.


  8. 1

    Nailed it. I've never seen it put into words like this but this is an excellent way of looking at the world.

  9. 1

    This is so important! Vision and Mission! ;) 💯

  10. 1

    Thanks Rosie. I am classic example of this. I have some ideas but I do not know how to validate it and that's a part of reason why I am stuck and not pursuing those product ideas. Your thoughts are really helpful.

  11. 1

    Great post! Every founder needs to hear this. Here is mine:

    I believe every creator should be able to make a sustainable income from their work. Anyone with a skill who is willing to work should be able to make a decent living regardless of who they are, what they do or where they live.

    I hope to achieve that with my new app.

  12. 1

    Great advice Rosie! 💪

  13. 1

    Very true! From my past 8 months of full-time research & learning, I feel confident enough to call this the recipe of success:

    Understanding fundamentals + Exploration + Validation

    It will probably take years but that's what it really takes :)

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