Lean is good for companies but bad for people. It doesn’t help with that potentially lengthy period when you’re still trying to find an idea with legs and don’t yet have funding or revenue. Here’s how I’ve been handling that bit:
- Protect your downside
- Work on whatever’s interesting
- Tell people how it went
For me, protecting one’s downside meant learning how to make money and doing paid work a few days each month. For some other folks, it means stockpiling cash. In all cases it means avoiding personal debt and liability. Just ensure that a failure of this project won’t stop you from being able to do the next one.
I’ve learned that I’m terrible at predicting whether an idea is going to be good. But looking back at the projects I found interesting enough to work on, it feels like they’ve each built on the learning and opportunities created by the earlier ones. When predicting success is hard, “interesting” is a fine heuristic to follow.
Financially unsuccessful projects are close to worthless unless you tell people how they went. Firstly because you don’t learn from your failures until you try to describe them. And secondly, because unannounced projects can’t create new connections and opportunities.
So that’s my take: protect your downside, work on whatever’s interesting, and tell people how it went. Do you have a different take? Would be interesting to hear if so!