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24 Comments

Is being a solo indie hacker that bad?

Every time I see a post about if someone should leave their job to pursue indie hacking, I see replies along the lines of "It will be the most difficult thing ever", "It will be extremely lonely", "You will have very low lows", "You will be working all day, every day". I have to say I'm surprised about this advice, is that really the case or is it just a warning about the worse case scenario? Or, have people just shot themself in the foot by picking a project that's too hard, and poorly preparing financially?

Whilst I don't have the experience of doing this, I do have the experience of doing solo business/projects part time, and my only thought is wow this would be so much fun if I could do this full time. Assuming you have money to burn through for a year, and skills to get a job after that as a fallback, why the painting of being a solo founder as such a struggle? There has got to be people out there having a blast doing this, surely it isn't all gloom?

  1. 10

    I'm a solo indie hacker running a design service profiting over $50k/m and loving every minute of it. So yeah, take it from me; you can have fun solo hacking so long as you have the hunger and hustle in you.

    1. 1

      That is fantastic. Why do you think you are loving it whilst others aren't as much? Is it purely your love for what you are doing? Because you are successful? Or, are you the sort of person who enjoys being locked away for hours at a time working on something alone and would therefore enjoy it regardless of how much you made?

  2. 5

    Don't get too seduced by seeing people out there earning $10k+ MRR all for themselves. More likely is that your business gets to $1k and only keeps going if you really push it. Here's my view of the pros and cons:

    Pro:

    • No boss
    • Learn an absolute ton
    • Choose your lifestyle
    • Do what you love

    Con:

    • Hard to take decisions on your own
    • Likewise, hard to decide on strategy
    • Lows are hard to bear without a support network
    • A lot of people will think you're crazy
    • Hard to pivot and therefore hard to succeed
    1. 1

      Yeah. I'm most certainly the crazy person in my circle, but I'm also the only person doing what we do. I don't need 10K MRR. 4K will do just fine.

  3. 4

    Firstoff, I find myself in the situation you described: money to burn through a year (~40% is gone) and the skills to get another job if needed.

    I started my indie journey because I needed a break from my previous job and from spending the whole day working on someone else's idea.

    So far (~5 months) I've collected great feedback with Dev Resources, but very little money (~$200).

    All in all, I can say: yes, it's lonely, I do work all the time and sometimes I start thinking that it's time to move on.

    On the other hand: I've never enjoyed a project so much, I never felt myself that confident about what I can build and I call the shots.

    Of course I dream of hitting the 10k/month milestone, but it does seem very far away, one of those things that only happens to the others, you know?

    But there's only thing I'm sure about: the more I try, the closer I am to it.

    Conclusion: I wish I had started earlier. Even though it's a daunting journey, I'm loving it.

    1. 2

      Well, sounds like you're on the right path. Farther ahead than me, for instance. I'll aim for $1K MRR initially, as it might actually be harder than $10K. Also, $1K can be the turning point where 1) I can incorporate, and 2) I can quit my day job.

      1. 2

        Yes, you're right on this one. I also agree it's better to aim for smaller goals, like the $1K.

        About quitting the job, that's a very personal thing. Honestly, I didn't have the brainpower to work as I do now back when I was working full-time for the company.

        I might need to find a part-time gig soon to spend burning my savings but like most things in my life, I go all-in on new experiences. So far it paid off.

        I wish you best of luck!

        1. 2

          Thanks, you too! There's another factor that comes into play: age. I'm a little older than the average maker (as far as I can tell), and the older you get the less risks you are willing to take.

          So you're always second-guessing yourself whether it's a good idea to go full indie. Also, it's never the right time. "Maybe in a year from now" or "Let me save just a little more".

  4. 4

    I feel like it's actually good advice for people to warn others about because it can be true and some people may not know how to manage it. Been there.

    1. 2

      Yeah, it's not what people want to hear but there's a lot of truth to it. It can be a lonely path, you'll want somebody to share it with in some form or fashion. That could be a co-founder/partner or it could just be someone you're close to that can share your emotional stake in your work.

  5. 2

    Some people are more suited to solo work than others.

    I actually love working alone on a project, but dislike not having anyone to share triumph and discuss challenges with.

  6. 2

    I'm in the same boat as you. I go to college full-time and work part-time while running my side project Dont Text. I would love to be a full-time IndieHacker and turn my side hustle into my full-time job.

    1. 3

      On an unrelated note, I love how your landing page looks.

  7. 1

    I've been solo indie hacking for a little over 2 years (~$2k MRR) and will echo what a lot of people have said - the highs are high, but the lows are really low. One thing I will say is that I don't think I could have done it without the support of my wife / partner - the journey would have been too lonely and the lows would have been simply too low, and I probably would have given up and gone back to a day job.

  8. 1

    It's not all-time fun, and the negatives here are overwhelming and may crush you if you are not prepared, that's true. I have some thoughts about it based on my experience.

    The main down factors IMO are lack of feedback (including monetary feedback), FOMO, and noise around.

    # Lack of feedback

    Sometimes it might be literally nothing for days, weeks, months, years.

    • 13 116 started building in public.
    • 2 494 are finding their first customers.
      which btw a lot, almost 20%, but yet 80% do not have any real feedback on their product yet.

    It can't be compared with occasional projects/gigs, because usually, they have a start, end, and some monetary value between. When you doing your own thing, you don't even know when you should stop it, and is there any money in it.

    Even on IH there like ~500 companies who make more than $5000/mo, and 1000 make less than $1000/mo - from 26 847 indiehackers (approximately calculation based on the search result).

    # FOMO

    I recently found out that: I'm doing my own business since 2016, and for all that time I didn't increase my overall wealth.

    I'm happy enough to hold the same amount of money (two years of cash to burn), but if I worked as a senior developer all this time the result would be probably 4-5x times better. I know it, my wife knows it, my family knows it, but we altogether lie to me that soon this business will pay off. Maybe yes, maybe not.

    I'm not happy with that, but I'm not really want to change that, at least right now. And that is a problem itself, the most burning question I ask myself in darkest moments: how long will I lose money?

    # Noise around

    Probably the most controversial thing, but for me reading others' success stories give nothing positive. There is rarely any value or even relevant information I can use, and I don't need a motivation kick like ",you can do it bro". I know what I can and can not.

    But this thing presses you. The same product explodes and brings their founders fame and money, and you struggle to bill even a tenth client.

    Everyone around talking about their successes, writing books about their successes, selling you consulting about their successes which probably will do nothing with you.

    # so

    These things will be pressure you every day. They pressure me every day.
    And these things only a small part of the picture. I very much love Jason Calacanis known mantra

    Reasons people don’t get wealthy (a partial list):

    1. A lack of skills
    2. Lack of taking risks
    3. Not building a network
    4. Poor work ethic
    5. Not reading books
    6. Giving up after getting beat down
    7. Fear
    8. Being born at the wrong time
    9. Being born in the wrong country

    He damn right in so many ways

    # But why do that then?

    That's a very hard question, I have no distinct answer. The reasons are always different. For me, it's just because I can not not do this.

    I worked as a developer, as a team-lead of 5 devs, worked in Thompson Reuters, founded a startup with 3 other founders, and finally found out that for me: indie (solo-owned) bootstrapped (no VC and startup posh) small (under 3 men) company - is the place I want and choose to be.

    p.s. sorry for the long post, these are some thoughts that I had for some time.

  9. 1

    Some days I am very tempted to quit my day job and just focus on building and launching my products. But then I chicken out because you can't beat a decent, steady income.

    I keep telling myself, if I had 4-8 focused hours / day for my side projects, surely I could launch things much faster. That may be true, unfortunately I can't dedicate more than 2 hours a day to it, outside of my regular job.

  10. 1

    I love all the comments here; I just want to add one thing, it's, in my opinion, really important to have good support in our personal life! As others said, it's important to share success or issues along the path, and hopefully, I have my GF to share the adventure with me, even if she doesn't work directly with me :-)

  11. 1

    Working remote indie hacking style, or in a company. Bboth of them have their pros and cons.

    Company politics, slow decision making, incompetent coworkers, no challenge.. The entrepreneurs hussle, a lot of alone time, the constant push for self motivation, accountability, not a routine around you, always working. You name it.

    If you've been working in a company all of your career, you know by now how to deal with the cons. That's also the case for the cons of being an entrepreneur. All of these cons suck, and are true. But there are numerous ways to deal with them.

  12. 1

    It depends on your definition of Indie Hacking... If it means being self-employed, the good news is that there are plenty of succesful self-employed people: artists, writers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. Nothing new... If it means trying to make money with a new concept that people are unfamiliar with, the stats don't look so good... It depends, therefore, on your level of crazy; if you are really crazy, it will be very hard. My advice is to start with a product that people are familiar with and are already buying then take more risks...

  13. 1

    The reason you have seen such replies is that indie hacking actually requires going out of the comfort zone, doing what you haven't before and striving against the odds, all by yourself.

    If you already believe you would have a lot of fun going all in, then it's a good indication but please remember, start with zero expectations.

  14. 1

    I just exited as the CEO of a $1M+ ARR business to become a full-time indie hacker; I see many people who previously worked in big tech are doing the same. So If you have the skills and confidence in yourself, there is no other way for you 🙌

  15. 1

    I'm living the indie hacker life and building a app product solo intending on making a living on it.

    There is so much doubt, uncertainty, and desire to quit and do something more guaranteed like finding a job or freelancing.

    You have to really enjoy the daily work involved, which is building and running a business, which is everything people say it is like.

  16. 1

    Hi! My situation is like you so i understand you very well. I am working a stable company as employment. And i develop my side project so i will lunch it in summer. The community is opened me many interesting topics about indie life. I never feel myself happy work to someone but i had choice so i am trying change it.

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