Breaking the Barrier: 5 Excuses Holding Back Your App Business

Breaking the Barrier: 5 Excuses Holding Back Your App Business

Here are some lessons learned that helped me stop procrastinating and start bootstrapping my app business

Check out my apps: HabitKit, WinDiary and Liftbear

Every so often, I receive an email or direct message that reads something along the lines of: "I would love to embark on a journey similar to yours, but I haven't [insert excuse here]." I understand completely; I navigated the same maze of excuses both when I was first starting out and during the times I procrastinated on actually getting started.

However, over the past two years, I've arrived at several insights that challenge these excuses. By sharing these realizations, I hope to assist you in taking the first steps towards building your own indie app business.

"I don't have a good idea"

The first hurdle many aspiring indie hackers mention is the absence of a "groundbreaking" idea. They often are stuck in the assumption that without a novel and revolutionary concept, they simply can't start a business. However, this mindset overlooks an important aspect: Your brain will be littered with business ideas once you start building a project.

Just begin with something. Anything. The most important aspect lies in taking that initial step. It's in the process of doing, experimenting, and engaging with your work that new, and often better, ideas begin to surface. Movement leads to clarity and opportunities, revealing paths and possibilities that were invisible from the starting line.

The best way is to look at your personal life. What are you passionate for? What are your hobbies? Are you a huge fan of weightlifting? Start building another fitness tracker and don't get discouraged by the million other fitness tracking apps on the market. Trust the process, because once you started moving you'll find your niche!

"I'll build the next facebook"

The next excuse that often surfaces among aspiring indie hackers is the ambitious goal of building the next facebook/Google/YouTube. While ambition is important in the world of bootstrapping a business, it's equally important for solo developers to remain grounded and humble with their project ideas. The challenge of finding the right scope for a project is really underrated; aiming too high from the start can lead to a project's scope becoming unmanageable. This often results in abandonment, as the motivation to see a complex project through to completion tanks in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Starting with a small idea that has the potential to grow is a more pragmatic approach. It allows for focus on the most critical aspect of any project: shipping. By concentrating on manageable, achievable goals, you can maintain momentum and enthusiasm. Each small version you ship builds confidence and skills, which can eventually lead to the compounding growth and ultimately expansion of your project. Remember, the giants of today started as the underdogs of yesterday; it's the journey from a humble beginning to potential greatness that truly defines success.

I started to see first financial successes after a full year of building all day and all night on my products. And - I believe - in comparison to the rest of the industry, that's pretty lucky and quick.

"Building in public is too dangerous"

I have to acknowledge the fears of building in public: the threat of copycats is indeed real once your project gains traction. Other builders and competitors can see what works for you and what doesn't, potentially leading to blatant imitation. Additionally, making your development process transparent can lead to the risk of receiving mean and discouraging comments. These concerns are definitely valid and are a big disadvantage of sharing your journey openly.

However, in my opinion the advantages of building in public often surpass these risks, particularly in the early stages of your project. It offers an excellent opportunity to build an audience, receive immediate feedback, and connect with your first real users. This early engagement is incredibly valuable for iterating on your product and making it better.

Another awesome aspect is the sense of community and mutual support among indie builders. Witnessing the launch of new projects or celebrating the successes of fellow developers can give you a huge motivation boost. Also, the ability to inspire others to start their app development journey is incredibly rewarding, and gives you a feeling of "giving back".

"I have to make THIS project work"

It's really important to approach your projects with a certain level of detachment. While some ideas may gain traction and lead to success, others might not take off as expected. This variability is a natural part of the indie app journey. For instance, alongside HabitKit, I launched two other apps, Liftbear and WinDiary, which unfortunately do not contribute significantly to my revenue and cannot be deemed as "successful".

Had I become fixated on making Liftbear a hit, pouring endless hours into developing new features without witnessing any real traction, it could have discouraged me to the point of abandoning the whole indie hacking journey altogether. This highlights a crucial lesson: it's important to recognize when to pivot or try a new direction.

While I'm not advocating for giving up on your projects at the first sign of difficulty—perseverance is key, after all—it's also important to be realistic. If a project isn't working out despite your best efforts, it may be wise to explore new ideas rather than continuing to invest in a "pointless" endavour. Making the decision to move on is tough, but it can also open the door to more promising opportunities that align better with market needs and your personal strengths.

"Just one more feature"

Falling into the trap of endless development without actually shipping is a common pitfall for many indie developers, including myself. We often convince ourselves that just one more feature is needed before our product is ready for launch. This mindset can significantly delay the release of your project, creating a cycle of endless tweaking and additions.

It's crucial to acknowledge that products are never finished. There will always be room for improvement and additional features. However, as an indie developer, it's super important to prioritize getting the first version of your product out into the world as quickly as possible. This initial release is not the end but the beginning of a cycle of feedback and iteration that will truly refine and define your app.

This principle applies to monetizing your app as well. Introducing the ability for users to pay for your product from the first version is something I strongly advocate. There is no greater validation than people actually willing to pay for your app. It not only confirms the value of your product but also kickstarts the revenue generation essential for sustaining your indie app business.

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