How to start as an Indie Hacker

Working in a bar

You don’t learn, then start. You start, then learn. — Sahil Lavingia

  • Some quick points about the journey
  • Ideation
  • Design & Development
  • Pricing
  • Marketing & Launching
  • Growing & Evolving

The nuts and bolts of starting for yourself, some bulletpoints

Woman working with laptop
Photo by Christina via Unsplash
  • You are in control to create your own destiny, but be prepared to work harder than a 9-to-5, especially in the early phase
  • Be consistent, be patient — it takes time to grow the revenue of a product; Do you have a system in place to keep yourself accountable, consistently productive and committed?
  • Be aware that for most, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. A lot of the times, successful solo founder have a string of ‘failures’ leading up to their one hit. The lesson here: you can’t fail if you don’t quit. And even if you do determine that a 9-to-5 better suits your demeanor, you’ll have learned some valuable lessons along the journey
  • As for commitment, try to solve a problem you’re passionate about, to keep yourself from burning out.
  • Ask yourself, what does the smallest version of my product look like; can you find a way to validate the business viability of your idea without writing a single line of code? For example, you could just put up a simple Landing Page pre-built template, with nothing but an e-mail sign-up form to gauge interest in the idea
  • #BuildinPublic, find and build your audience while you’re creating it and get buy-in to your company’s brand narrative
  • Be prepared to wear many hats: you will design, develop, market and evolve your product yourself
  • Ruthlessly prioritize action and making over passive consumption and the illusion of learning— in the end most of your learning will come by doing, that’s the best way to make it stick
  • Prefer ‘done’ over ‘perfect’ — better to ship a product that proves to be useless to an audience early on, rather than mull over it for 6 months, only to find out it is received with silence when you finally do launch. Besides, if you launch early and it’s not useful yet, that gives you learnings to iterate on the initial idea.

No-code and Low-code Tools

Is it for you?

The Ideation Phase

Image by Haydn Golden https://unsplash.com/photos/N1fFPKKDmhs?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink
Image by Haydn Golden via Unsplash

“Great execution is at least 10 times more important and a 100 times harder than a good idea…” — Sam Altman, former president, YCombinator

Designing a Product

Developing & Building a Product: the Tech Stack

A note on different technical backgrounds

  1. Overengineering. Just because you know how to set up a complex relational database in PostgresQL or MySQL, doesn’t mean you have to. Try to validate your idea early on — it’s about business viability, not complexity of tech stacks.
  2. Losing sight of the other aspects of being a solo SaaS founder. You’re wearing many hats: a focus on UI/UX design and Marketing are essential for the growth of your product. Remember, you’re building a product for the user. While your software should be performant and fast, the user doesn’t care about your tech stack, she/he just wants it to solve his/her problems. So put a sizeable amount of care into the front-end of things.
  3. Shiny object syndrome: in this day and age of ever advancing and new technological tools, don’t be distracted by what’s currently trending.
Man sitting in bar with laptop
Image by Muhammad Raufan Yusup via Unsplash
  1. Remember your end-user. The points mentioned above also apply here.
  2. Specific to this group: what do you use as a backend? Should you learn to create and manage a database from scratch? Fortunately there are a lot of options allowing you to be operational sooner and with less hassle. There are ‘serverless’/Cloud Databases, or backend-as-a-service (BaaS): Firebase, Supabase, FaunaDB.
  3. Shiny object syndrome: okay, so you know Vue or React, but what if you built this product with Svelte, or not with Next.js but with Remix? Everyone’s raving about that. No. Focus on what you know, and get to shipping!
Webflow
Image credit, Team Xperian on Unsplash

Monetizing & Pricing your Product

Marketing & Launching your Product

Where do I launch?

Growing & Evolving your Product

Some parting words

Resources to help you along in your journey

Some lessons from succesful Indie Hackers:

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