What stops us from building products?

Do you want to release more stuff? Of course! We all do.

Then why don’t we? Weeks go by. We procrastinate. We get busy. We’re unfocused. Life happens.

I have friends who decided they would get married and build their dream home. They got the drawings, purchased the land, and started building. They worked really hard to get the initial shell of the home built; then they moved in. That was over 20 years ago. Their house still isn’t finished. In fact, they haven’t done much since that initial push.

It can feel the same way when you’re building products. You start off with a great idea, but never get it off the ground.

There’s two reasons for this:

  1. We don’t keep the scope of our ideas small enough so that they’re actually achievable.
  2. We don’t execute. To get things done, we need to sit down every day and build that thing.

It’s scary how quickly time slips by. Jordan Phoenix writes a great post about “the number of months we have left”. For most of us it’s anywhere between 0-600. “When I think about it in those terms,” Jordan continues, “it really does go so fast. For this month, how many days have you put aside to do what you love most?”

What’s the solution?

Over in the JFDI community we’re trying an experiment:

I want to get more things out there in general, so anything that forces me to get something shipped quickly is a good thing.

Jacob Wyke

Here’s what we’re attempting: each of us is going to try to build a small product in 1 week. Every day, we’ll get a challenge by email. We’ll complete the challenge, report back in the forums, and then blog about our experience.

We think this will work. We’re hoping it will solve the typical inertia problems people have by:

  1. Limiting scope: there’s only so much you can do in a week. By setting a time limit, we’re automatically defining “how big” this project can be.
  2. A daily trigger: if we’re going to build something in a week, we’re going to need to work on it every day. The automatic daily email (and having to report to the forum) is going to act as a trigger: “I need to work on this today!”
  3. A week-long chain: when you do something every day, it becomes a habit. We’re going to follow Jerry Seinfeld’s famous advice and “not break the chain” for one week.
  4. Social support and accountability: it’s a lot easier to force yourself to go jogging if you have a jogging buddy. In the same way, JFDI is an accountability group for product entrepreneurs. We’ll be showing up every day in the chat room and forums to encourage each other to work on our products.

Want to follow along?

I’m in on this too: this week I’ll be building a product to address the pain in building an online audience. Are you looking to build an audience? Each day I’ll be sending out an update on my progress. You can subscribe here!

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Published on November 9, 2013