By Tobias van Schneider Published November 5, 2019
I’ve written about this so many times. Directly and indirectly, inspired not only by my own thoughts, dreams or concerns, but often those around me. A conversation with a friend that keeps repeating itself, in circles, again and again.
Why is it so hard to do the things we want to do?
Do we not want it enough?
Are we afraid of what happens if we fail?
Are we afraid of what happens if we succeed?
We can come up with myriad reasons, some valid and others perhaps not so much. Some say the start is the most crucial part of every project. Most fail before they even begin. The rest fail at the last 10% (but that’s a different story for another time).
Below are some tips and tricks I find helpful when working on my own projects, or starting up a new one.
The name is temporary
If you can’t find a name for your project, don’t worry. A name is temporary and can be changed any time. This is even more true in the early days of your project. While a good name can make a huge difference later on (those who work in branding know this), it doesn’t really matter in the beginning.
Move quick. Pick a “working title” as they do with movies. Don’t get held up because you can’t find the perfect name. Chances are you won’t find it for a while and you will just stumble upon it while working on something else.
"What problem are you trying to solve, and how can you solve it in the hackiest, most minimalistic way possible?"
You don't always need the .com
Don’t postpone your projects because you couldn’t find your perfect domain name or social media username. Focus on what’s important; you can always take care of the domain later. My own company, Semplice, started out as semplicelabs.com and only years later were we able to get the semplice.com domain. If you have a name you like, use .io or .co domains or whatever else is available and works for you in the meantime.
Don't overthink the technicalities
If you have an idea for an app, your first prototype might not need to be a fully-fledged app. Perhaps it can start out as an email list or a spreadsheet. What problem are you trying to solve, and how can you solve it in the hackiest, most minimalistic way possible?
Don't let overthinking or perfectionism kill your project before you even begin. If your idea is to create an e-commerce platform, don’t yet worry about logistics or hiring an engineering team to build out your online shop. Take the core of your idea and simply start an Instagram account or a YouTube channel. Build an audience, test the idea, see if people like it and only then move forward. If you find you have high demand and no platform to support it, that’s a good problem and where you want to be.
"All you want in the beginning is to see some momentum."
Build light and validate fast — "The minimum love-able product"
What’s the minimum you can do to make people understand and love the idea of your project? Create a landing page, curate a small Instagram account and run a few very specific ads to drive some traffic to your product. Watch the numbers and go from there. All you want in the beginning is to see some momentum. This is not only good for your product, but also your mind. You need it to stay motivated and keep moving forward yourself.
Keep it stupid
I've been preaching this message for a long time now. “Keeping it stupid” means you’re not over-complicating your idea and finding an excuse to procrastinate. Your idea and execution should be so simple that others might think it’s stupid. That’s when you hit the sweet spot of just enough challenge to move forward, but not too much to get stuck.
Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” It's a good way to keep your idea simple, for yourself and those around you, and actually launch it.
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the founder of DESK, nice to meet you!