How do you tackle not feeling ready or technical enough to start?

Ideas come and go and the reason I usually don't start is that I feel like I'm not ready and I need to read up on marketing, dev processes, testing, acquiring users and a lot of facets that are crucial to a businesses success.
How have fellow IndieHackers overcome this?



  1. 9

    I use to just do stuff. Commit to a thing/idea. See what I could make of it. Experiment, play, research. Discuss and learn from others. If I enjoyed it and had the time, I would continue. Or if I saw some kind of traction, that would also give me the encouragement to keep going.

    It's so easy to get in the trap of feeling like you don't know enough, that you need to learn more, and more and more. Everyone will want to work in different ways, from my experience, the best way to learn is just by doing.

  2. 4

    I think one of the best things about tech is that once you launch a product, you can always iterate and make it better. Nothing is set in stone.

    When I was in school for Computer Science, I had an inflated sense of perfectionism because I had 1-time deadlines. When I started working on side projects after school, I had a tough time launching because I felt like I didn’t know enough and had to do 20 things before I could get my site out.

    Working in the software industry helped me realize that the process of building a product is never truly “complete” — there will always be improvements that you can make. So even if your site design isn’t beautiful, or your performance is a bit slow, etc., you can always improve these things with time. (And if you think about it, improvements can be a marketing strategy in themselves.)

    What I do on a daily basis:

    • I remind myself that we become experts through a combination of learning and doing, not just by learning (you can learn a whole bunch of techniques, but application of the technique may be different than what you read) and not just by doing (you can repeatedly make the same mistakes/repeatedly do something in an inefficient manner when there's a better solution).

    • I believe in starting my day by doing something actionable (writing/deploying code or writing down prospects) and then learning later in the day. I do this because learning in the beginning of the day can sometimes make me hesitant to start coding and introduce doubts (like oh man, this person is telling me to market in a way that I’m not used to. Maybe I should spend a few hours on that before I do my other tasks for the day?).

    Sorry to ramble, but I hope that helps somewhat. Good luck!

    1. 1

      Thanks for the rambling @asitwala, it does help!

  3. 3

    Pick a simple enough idea, then just start. And ignore any thoughts that you can't do it. How else will you be "ready or technical enough" without just launching and learning from it?

    No job at a business will prepare you as well as just launching.

  4. 2

    I'll be honest, it's hard for me to relate. If anything I have the opposite problem — a burning desire to start. I start things prematurely without doing the "right" things beforehand. I used to feel really bad about doing that. But through Indie Hackers I've gotten to meet a lot of truly amazing people. I'm good friends with a lot of them now. I'm always so excited to look and see how they do things, to learn from them. And you know what? Most of the time, they feel the same way about me! Turns out, none of us have our shit together. But we just do it anyway, and most of what we try doesn't work out, but some of it does, and that's the stuff people pay attention to.

    1. 1

      Thanks @csallen! Trying it all!

  5. 2

    Hey Issa 👋I've felt un-ready for most things in my life so far. 😬 But talking with friends and family about any nerves, what I expect from myself (it's usually unrealistic), and what's actually realistic (a first small step, then another) has helped me the most in the past. Frequent conversations give me perspective, remind me what I've done so far, and help me think through best and worst-case scenarios.

    Related: I think I've read this "leap when you're almost ready" article at least 3x already this year. It always encourages me! Maybe you'd like it? http://casnocha.com/2017/05/youre-almost-ready.html

    And I know you didn't ask for reading recs, but you might like some of the blogs and newsletters in here: https://builtbykrit.com/blog/worth-your-time-the-best-content-for-non-technical-saas-founders-in-2019. I'm sure you've heard of a lot of them, but you might find one or two that are new for when you're reading up!

    1. 1

      Thanks @lbosco! The reading recs are useful as ever!:-)

  6. 2

    Hi @issa,

    From what you said I guess you are a very perfectionist person. Aiming perfection and thinking big is good if it makes you act and gives you the energy to keep going on, but when it paralyzes and sabotages you, it's better to change some of your believes and adopt empowering ones.

    The good news here is that overcoming it is possible if you change your mindset. Here you have some beliefs you can adopt to let go the old way of thinking that is not useful anymore:

    • I can do continuous improvement, what I do today it's not forever it's just a first step
    • The more I do, the more I learn, and the more I progress
    • Mistakes are not a failure anymore, they are an opportunity to grow and develop myself
    • All big and famous projects also started being something small and simple. What all they had in common is a vision, a dream, they trusted in themselves and get started. Think about Facebook, Apple, Google. How were they at the beginning? They are so big now because they started

    Try to find out what are the messages and believes that come to your mind and that make you stop and give up. Write them down and transform them into new and empowering beliefs, and train your mind to adopt them. Your way of thinking is a habit, and like any other habit, it's just a matter of practice and repetition.

    Remember: the best moment to start is now, because is the only instant that exists! :)

    1. 1

      Thanks alot @AndreaArcusa! Read me like a book here :-).

  7. 2

    The truth is you'll never be as ready as you think you need to be. If you try, your odds are better than zero. If you don't try your odds are zero. The fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain. This is true in your case. It's true in most cases.

    The bad news is that you're almost definitely going to fail at some point. The good news is that the cost of failure is relatively low these days. Failure is a feedback mechanism. Nothing more, nothing less.

    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill

    I think reading this will benefit you:

    1. 1

      This is wholly awesome, @sheldoncwright!
      Do you have more of this type of thinking?

      1. 3

        Philosophy is in general very instructive. It's basically really brilliant people thinking out loud. Directly and indirectly teaching you how to think.

        Thomas Aquinas
        René Girard
        Albert Camus
        Carl Jung
        Martin Heidegger
        René Descartes
        Ralph Waldo Emerson
        Michel Foucault
        David Hume
        Immanuel Kant
        Søren Kierkegaard
        John Locke
        Niccolo Machiavelli
        Karl Marx
        John Stuart Mill
        Friedrich Nietzsche
        Jean-Jacques Rousseau
        Jean-Paul Sartre
        Ludwig Wittgenstein


        Reality And The Sacred (lecture) w/ Dr. Jordan B. Peterson - He evokes mixed reactions in popular culture, but this lecture is from before he was well known. It's a bit abstract in parts, but I found it insightful. (especially roughly 30min-end)

        Analysis paralysis:

        (Book) Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon -> related ->

        Start a blog and document your work and efforts. It serves two purposes. One, it is a mechanism of accountability. Two, in the event you do fail, it won't be for nothing. You will have a detailed record that will be helpful in your future endeavors and that of others. Mistakes other people make are the cheapest and therefore a hot commodity! People will respect you for trying. They will be grateful and appreciative of your willingness to share your experience.

        A bonus is that explaining your thought process and decision making will force you to think about what you're doing in a deeper and more comprehensive way (making failure less likely). Feynman said something to the effect of "If you can't explain something in simple terms, you don't understand it." ( Look up the Feynman technique if you aren't familiar with it)

        Learned Helplessness - https://youtu.be/hQsnHkfs3sA
        Let Go Of Yourself - Alan Watts https://youtu.be/OlWz5IEGdy8
        How to Deal with Failure - Jocko Willink https://youtu.be/6fUPH-035cE
        You Are A Strange Loop - Will Schoder https://youtu.be/hQsnHkfs3sA

        (Book) The Obstacle is the Way By Ryan Holiday -> Summary ->

        Ryan apprenticed under writer Robert Greene who also has several excellent books.

        All of the Stoics are excellent. Cato, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius.

        How We Use the Procrastination Equation:

        Some of these should be helpful, but they aren't going to quell your fear indefinitely. It's something you'll have to actively manage for the rest of your life. Understanding something shrinks its perceived danger and makes it easier to manage. When you have an emotional reaction to something, especially an aversion, make an effort to understand why so you can recognize it and deal with it accordingly.

        Good Luck!

        1. 1

          Thanks alot @sheldoncwright!
          This is really amazing!

  8. 2

    Hey Issa, usually I set goals and try and pick the most effective path to accomplishing them fun fact I only learnt to code in the last 4 months of 2018. So I'm still new to it but honestly I'm realizing how good I am at solving problems and building out features. In most cases I have no idea what I am doing and stack-overflow helps and when I'm done I usually wind up with a slightly better understanding of a concept.

    So what I did:
    -Found a javascript course on udemy that solidified my understanding of the basics.
    -I took notes during this time.
    -Then I did a node.js course.
    -My goals for the node.js was to understand how the mvc pattern works and how to use express and what express is.
    -I then quickly glanced at how to connect a database to my front-end and started building stuff.
    -First thing I built was a landing page for a startup idea I've always had over here- http://www.kapp.co.ke/
    -I always go back to the course to learn new things and concepts.
    -I recently made an authentication workflow for my side project I had never made one before but guess what after a week of learning and debugging it works perfectly.
    -This week I'm doing form and error handling.
    -Next week for sure is integrating payments.

    What I'm trying to say is make small actionable goals and just figure out how to accomplish them at your own pace. One day you know nothing and a week later your like "wow, never thought would have gotten here good job me".

    Just try and do even if its one thing.

    Anyway see you around Indie Hackers <3

    1. 1

      Thanks @charleskiarie, one day at a time!

  9. 2

    I was in your shoe and still am combating the same issue. What I've witness first hand from people who are successful is they just do what they have to do a step at a time. For example, an e-commerce friend started a shop with partial research and launched it with traffic from Google and fb ads. His shop was crap, the ads weren't the best, but he iterated as sales came in. What he did right was focus learning and applying CRO after he got the shop up, the ads up, and the traffic coming.

    In my case, I would've tried to learn seo, cro, ppc, copy, ui/us. I would make sure the website looks a-mazing! before moving on to the next stage. So while someone starting out at the same time as me are way ahead with sales coming, I'm still trying to learn wayyyyy too much before I start. Sad part was, the momentum to even start eventually ran out.

    What works now for me is to try to build something anything or add additional features a day at a time. And spend only 20% of my day reading to learn unfamiliar topics.

    1. 1

      Thanks @zwm, relating to other people facing the same issue normalizes it. One step at a time!

  10. 2

    I like to think of it like a ratchet. You don't need to screw in the bolt all the way on your first go, you just need to make progress. Luckily, with code, nothing is going to be undone by you stepping back and deciding to take more time to learn.

    I bet you'll find that you make more progress than you think! Best of luck.

  11. 2

    You just start.

    I am fully self learned, even when I went to Uni I mostly learned math, not so much programming.

    The only way to start learning is to literally start learning, it will take time but eventually it will click and then continue to click. All of a sudden you can start creating small projects yourself :)

    I'm soon to start Marketing, and I have no idea how to do it. As usual I just guess I'll have to start. Although I'll admit it's daunting and a bit scary

    1. 2

      Thanks @tallkotten! I don't thing the scary part will ever end :-)

  12. 1

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