the one simple trick that will save you a week's worth of work

New product ideas are exciting. Maybe you’ve hit on some way to accomplish a common task in half the time. Maybe you’ve figured out a way to enable some new behavior. Or perhaps it’s just a simple arbitrage opportunity that’s going to earn you a ton of money. For creators, nothing can beat this thrill of creation. It’s what drives us.

You start bouncing your new idea off of others as a way to tease out the things that you missed. You try to sell your friends and colleagues on the idea, knowing that your idea may not have legs if you‘re unable to do so. You look for that validation that you need to invest more time and dive into your new project.

In this moment when you’re intoxicated with your new idea, the hardest thing to do is to put on the brakes. But it might be the most important thing you can do.

Recently I sat down with a couple of colleagues to plot out a new hack project. We began our brainstorm, each of us throwing out ideas until we had one that resonated with each of us. We had an idea in thirty minutes. Ten minutes later, we were spec’ing out the API we would need and then selecting the right technology. All that was left for world domination would be divvying up the tasks.

I can’t count how many times I or people I know have jumped headfirst into a new idea thinking it would take a day or a weekend at most. Instead, I’m emerging two weeks later with a prototype barely resembling the original spark that has yet to gather any feedback. Riding the wave of excitement that springs from a new idea is exhilarating. It can also take you straight into the rocks.

Here’s a simple idea that’s worked for me: start with a use case. One simple use case. That’s it. Perfect it from the user’s point of view and then go gather some customer feedback. Starting small and iterating might not generate a wave big enough to get your adrenaline going, but it’ll build a wave of momentum nonetheless, and most importantly, have you headed in the right direction.

dec 2016

👋, I'm Ben, a hacker, entrepreneur, and endurance athlete in SF. These days I'm building the customer infrastructure of the future with Unboxed.

Previously, I co-founded dailymile, where we built what the New York Times called "a site where runners can broadcast their miles across the Web to anyone willing to listen."

I'm passionate about giving a hand up to athletes, and helping startups with product and their Web APIs. The best way to get in touch is @bweiner