The starting line

Build less

Conventional wisdom suggests that one has to one-up his competitors to win a competition. If they have 4 features, you need to ship 5. If they spend 20X you spend 30X.

By following this behavior, you are follower not a leader. Followers don’t invent.

So, what to do then? Build less!

  • Less features
  • Less options
  • Less people
  • Less meeting
  • Less promises

Focus on untapped, simple problems to solve. Let them solve the more complex problems.

Try underdoing.

What’s your problem? build software for yourself

A great way to start building software is to build something to solve your own problem. You become your own customer.

Open source developers don’t suffer this problem because they are their own users. I think it is one of the reasons developers come home after a hard day of coding and then work on open source. Its relaxing.

  • Dave Thomas, The Pragmatic Programmers

Fund Yourself

Outside money is plan B.

The first priority of many startups is acquiring funding from investors. But remember if your turn to outsiders for funding your will have to answer to them to. Expectations are raised, investors want return back on their investments Quickly. It will come at the cost of product quality.

So, do with less. Start with cash at hand. Think hard and determine what’s really essential.

Embrace the constrains. Constrains drive innovation and push for creativity. If your idea is a good you can self-sustain for a period of time until its out. If it turns out to be a lemon back to the whiteboard.

Fix Time and Budget, Flex Scope

You will launch on time by keeping your time and budget fixed and flexible scope. There is a myth that we can launch on time within budget and keep the scope. At the cost of quality, it maybe. If you don’t want to compromise quality keep your scope flexible.

  • Prioritization: Figure out what is really important.
  • Reality:  Setting expectation is key. Time and Budget are fixed. Scope is not.
  • Flexibility: The ability to change is key.

Have an Enemy

It helps to know what your application shouldn’t be doing.

People understand a product by comparing it to others.

You get a clear marketing message (almost free).

It shouldn’t be Chore

The less your app is chore to build, the better it will be. Keep it small and manageable to actually enjoy the process.

Inspired by Getting Real by 37 Signal.