July 29, 2019

When you have too many ideas to handle...

Colin Winhall @cwinhall

I've recently updated my personal website with 6 new projects that I have thought of and invested some time in making prototypes and thinking through the business models for.

I know from past experience that I should focus on one and also that I should try to find a co-founder to help me create one. But which one?

Appreciate any input that you guys and gals have for me and look forward to any criticisms about the ideas themselves too!

https://cwinhall.com/

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    Generating ideas and business models is a great thing as it keeps the imagination and creative side of your brain active. Especially when working long hours at a startup and your brain is focused on problem solving for most of the day.

    However we will always have more ideas than we can ever act on or build in our lifetimes.

    So what I would suggest is looking at your list again and asking are any of these a ‘hell yes’ idea? Is there anything that you can’t stop spending your spare time on, generating momentum with, talking to people about - even without a technical co-founder.

    My advice would be, if it’s not a hell yes then it’s a no. You definitely want to pick a project that you can’t help but drive forward on your own initiative.

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    @louisswiss already said something like this, but you should probably do some market research on each project and make a "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats" chart. That should help put everything in front of you and help you decide which to go for.

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      I have been wanting to do swot analysis of these for a while. This is my task for the weekend now. Thanks for the feedback.

      Although I think I will actually go ahead and not do an old school swot. I wrote an article on LinkedIn how I like to analyse an idea's worth. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/finding-problems-worth-solving-colin-winhall/

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        Ooh, this is interesting. This speaks more to how I think of ideas too. This can definitely come before SWOT :O thanks for sharing

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        Why wait till the weekend when it can be done right away. Thanks for getting me to do this.

        I ended up making a quick google sheet to rank these ideas on 5 attributes. Check out the sheet here:

        https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1BDE_S5BWbJIhOBrlE7GePu1ru_EPnkn5rYf1C-jR7LM/edit?usp=sharing

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          I love that you added the passion column! That's something that not many people think about -- without passion you might just quit after a long time. So I'm guessing you're going with Oxus then?

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    Colin, I love what you are doing here by putting all your ideas on your website before committing to one of them. Having too many ideas, not knowing which one to commit to is an issue I've been struggling with as well.

    If you're trying to figure out what to do with all these ideas I highly recommend you check out makebook by @levelsio. You should also check out the indie hackers podcast (#43) where he talks through "12 products in 12 months as a solo founder."

    Keep it up and I hope to have my own website up soon!

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      I have been putting off buying that book for too long. I have listened to the podcast episode though.

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        I bought it a couple days ago and it's been very enjoyable so far!

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    My $0.02...

    It doesn't matter what we think you should do.

    Talk to the potential customers of each project. They'll quickly help you work out which one is most worth putting effort into (if indeed, any are).

    Business becomes so much easier when you let your customers show you what to do next.

    Good luck!

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      +1 to talking to potential customers. I jumped from idea to idea for years, never putting in enough time to make meaningful progress on any single project. What finally helped me stay committed over these past 6 months (longest I've stuck with something!) was running some ad campaigns upfront to try to see if there was interest and chatting with prospective users directly. There were many times I wanted to give up and move on, but having that data around encouraged me to see it through.

      Another change that I think has helped me stay focused this time around was adopting a more relaxed approach to working on my side project. Beforehand, I was always calculating what I felt would be most successful, always feeling that whatever I worked on had to be the one with the greatest upside. That constant feeling of having to work on the best idea I possibly could made it hard to focus. I decided that I would try my best on a single project, and even if it tanks, see it as an art project (as opposed to purely business) and a challenge to build a beautiful product. Though of course YMMV with this... for example, I think if I already had a lot of experience building products from the ground up I'd probably feel differently. But if it's your first, maybe adopting this type of attitude may help? It did for me :)

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      I agree but also disagree. Let me explain.

      You are totally right that customers will be the ones who ultimately make or break a project. No denying it.

      The part I disagree with is that you say it doesn't matter what you think I should do. The opinions on this website help form motivation and broaden knowledge. So I think the opinions of indie hackers are important to me for those reasons :-)

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    I agree the resize app could be useful... but there are alternatives and low barrier to entry with the great sever modules around. I've built vs. bought a similar solution several times even with services like CloudFlare existing.

    Also, I went through a 1 yr phase where I tried to build 3 projects at once. It IS doable for a time but I got burned out. I think this would be a better approach if you have a rockstar team of 3-4 people. That way you can re-energize each other. Alone is "lonely".

    My ideas were:

    1. Templatius.com - A kick-ass Gmail email template plugin. I know others exist but I've always been frustrated so I wanted to build my own geared at business people. Partly to learn about the Chrome Plugin ecosystem. This plugin will be released next week.

    2. ClientLogoFinder.com - A simple way to build a logo wall of customers... Got sick of cropping and resizing too. I have abandoned this project as it currently relies on an API.. At scale it would be tough to monetize as-is so its on hold.

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      Thanks for the feedback. I too made 5 side projects last year by myself and it was very exhausting and I also burnt out a bit from it. It taught me that I am someone that needs someone there by my side to hold me accountable and also help pull the weight.

      I liked both your projects btw. 2nd one is a bit like a bulk clearbit tool for those who can't make use of the api themselves.

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    A few reflections:

    1. You haven't stated your goal. What do you want from these projects? If the goal is low four figures in MRR, they all can reach it. If the goal is to build a sizeable business, you should go with call translate, wip capital or batman dev. If the goal is to find a side project that is not time consuming, size matters is the best option.
    2. Call translate, batman dev and wip capital seem time-consuming and if you work 60 hours per week, it's hard to make them work.
    3. The most fascinating to me is quantified life. Seems great to improve in all areas of life and it is something people are looking for in these day. I didn't understand what kind of data (a list) and how you are going to collect it.
    4. Overall judgement. Size matters if you want a low side income with low effort. Batman dev and call translate if you want to build a sizable and low risk business (low risk because it is proven that people need these services, you have to make it work). Quantified life is probably the most risky and it is time-consuming too, but for me the one with the highest ceiling.
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      Hey Luqa,

      Thanks for your feedback, really appreciate it. Quantified life is probably also my favourite (apart from wip capital) in terms of something I am passionate about. Unfortunately it is the most time consuming as you say and probably one of the hardest to market too.

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    Why focus just on one? You can do more than 2-3 at the same time, it's all a matter of being organized and manage your time properly. (well, depending on the complexity of the product)

    If you do need to choose only one, did you get any sort of traction to any of those 6?

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      Managing time is not really the issue. I'm currently working full-time at a startup, with a lot of overtime put in there too. (60 hours per week total). Already struggling with the work/life balance from this job so I'd rather focus on one side project to invest time in.

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