When I started the blog in 2017 my goals was to make more things. I thought the blog would hold me accountable because I would need things to write about. At first I found it hard to come up with ideas for things to make. I overcame that by keeping a list of ideas (a page in Apple Notes) and writing down any idea that came to mind. After a while, I had a long list of ideas. Then the problem became - how to decide what to work on?
Recently, I discussed a side project idea with a colleague at work. My colleague’s idea sounded interesting but when I asked him “would you use it?”, the answer was no.
The best ideas to work on are the ones you yourself want to consume.
I’ve heard Tim Ferriss say something similar. “What do I spend a silly amount of money on? How might I scratch my own itch? To explore business opportunities, I didn’t do in-depth market research. I started with my credit card statement and asked myself, what do I spend a silly amount of money on? Where did I spend a disproportionate amount of my income? Where was I price insensitive?“
Adam Savage puts it another way. In his talk, My 10 Commandments for Makers, he says “Make stuff that improves your life, either mechanically or aesthetically”.
Here are three reasons why you should make stuff you’re a consumer of:
1. You have a deeper interest in problems that affect you
Finding solutions to my own problems keeps me interested, which helps me push past the hard parts of the project. In Seth Godin’s book The Dip he says that anything worth doing has a hard middle period. If you don’t have the dedication to stick at it then don’t start at all!
2. Your product will address a problem better if you eat your own dog food
In software development, the phrase “eating your own dog food” describes a company that uses its own products for internal operations. If you’re not using your own product you won’t notice the little things. Does it really solve the problem? Can it be simplified? Are there any annoying issues that could be improved?
3. You know there is a genuine problem, because it’s your problem
Often I think of ideas as an industry outsider but once I learn more I realise why things are the way they are. Although outsiders can make innovations, you typically need inside knowledge. The best way to have inside knowledge is to be your first customer and solve a problem for yourself.
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