What Should I Build?

I enjoyed reading Natalie Downe’s post detailing the story of her startup, Lanyrd:

It’s a great story and (spoiler alert!) it has a happy ending.  But the part I’d like to focus on is her advice on how to make sure you’re doing your startup for the right reasons:

Build something you care about.
Build something that makes people’s lives better.
Build something that will motivate you against all odds.

1) Build something you care about.

Starting a company is probably more work than anything else you’ll ever do in your professional life (trust me, parenting is harder, and I have it on good authority that Army Ranger training is even harder than parenting).

To keep going, you need to be working on a project that you can’t stop thinking about, even when you try.  I’ll find myself thinking about great projects while I’m driving, showering, walking the dog…and inspiration can strike at any time.  That happens because I’m working on things I care about.

2) Build something that makes people’s lives better.

Even if you care about something, others might not.  That’s why you need a mission that can motivate a wide variety of people.

As a startup, you’ll never be able to compete with the Googles and Facebooks of the world in terms of money.  All you can offer is your mission.  Make it count.

3) Build something that will motivate you against all odds.

Running a startup means constantly teetering on the precipice of failure.  I lead a charmed life, and all it takes for me to feel like everything is going to hell is to miss a couple of hours of sleep.

If you’re relying on feeling good to be productive, you’re doomed.  You need something that will push you through the rough patches, and keep your feet churning, even when you feel like curling up in a ball and sucking your thumb.

Build something bigger than yourself, and you’ll have the motivation to keep going, even when you don’t care enough to do it for yourself.

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