You have enough data
We’re conditioned to seek help and permission before setting out to accomplish great things.
We feel like we have to do all this market research, competitor analysis, and droves of customer interviews before giving ourselves the permission to build a product.
We seek expert help to approach complex topics, which are mostly complex because they’re highly contextual and therefore unique to ourselves.
There are a lot of reasons to not get started. But don’t let lack of data be one of them.
The best way to move forward while collecting data is to run experiments.
The beauty of running your own experiments is that you can tailor them to your situation and the problem you’re trying to solve at the ideal time (“now”).
The ideal experiments to run are easily reversible and highly contextual, low-cost and low-risk. They generate enough data that you can take the best next step, which usually involves a higher-cost and higher-risk decision.
Solve these three problems with experiments, not passive research:
1) You’re considering moving somewhere else. Should you move?
Identify the things that you like and hate about where you live now. Then, predict the things that you expect you will like and hate about where you want to move to.
Rent a room or visit a friend in the new place for a month, or atleast a weekend. Instead of treating your trip like “a vacation,” act like it’s real. Observe what’s good and bad, easy and hard about the new place. Now you have some data. Decide if a longer stay or a more permanent move is worth it.
2) You want to start a business. What should you build?
Observe the things that bug you and your community. You don’t need to conduct explicit user interviews or competitor research. You’re your first user.
Try resolving these problems with your own skills.
Can you build the complete solution by yourself? If yes, build it. If not, pick another problem or build your skills up.
Is your proposed solution eliciting a response from your user community? Yes - congrats, you have a product! No? Iterate!
3) You have a great business idea. Will people buy it?
What would you pay for it? Set the price at that number and record how people respond.
If people buy and don’t complain, great. If people buy but complain, then maybe lower the price. If no one buys, then definitely lower the price or change the business.
Some experiments I ran in February:
- 3 product launches (2 were small chrome extensions, 1 was a mobile app built on the no-code platform Glide)
- By building these, I learned about the under-served problems that creators of chrome extensions and Glide users face. Now, I’m building solutions for those creators.
- Through user feedback, I can also prioritize my roadmap more effectively for the 3 products that I’ve already launched.
- 2 essays for Creator Habit
- By writing these, I discovered that the longer I wait between essays, the more scared I get to publish the next one. So, I’m publishing my writing more frequently.
- Through dialogue with my readers, I also developed a stronger understanding of what I like to write about and what my readers like to read.
Don’t let the desire for data paralyze you. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.
Designing experiments is an excellent skill to practice. Over time, you’ll develop an eye for spotting the right experiment to validate your hypotheses.
Thanks to Abhijeet for reading early drafts.