My philosophy with creating software has for a long time been, if you provide value to the world, the world will provide value to you. Everyone wants to be rewarded for their hard work and dedication. What this means is if you dedicate your work toward the pursuit of real value, the universe will conspire to reward you for it.
When you’re conscious of this philosophy focusing your finite energy become a lot easier. You now have a guide helping you decide what projects are a “no” and which are a “yes”. Sometimes this means turning down making something you think is really cool or really like but doesn’t actually create real value.
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.
~ Steve Jobs
A question you may have after reading this is how can you define value? What matters? I can only answer that question for myself. In my opinion there’s three main categories:
- Affects more people then yourself
- Pushes the needle (innovation)
- Solves a real problem
The best kind of project you can work on is one that fills a personal need. If you’re not a user of a product how can you know it’s good besides trusting the opinions of others? On the other hand, being niche is great for carving your own space out of a market but being so niche that no one else really cares is of course not ideal.
One way to create something others will care about is solving a problem. Everyone has problems. Some more than others. There’s no shortage of problems in the world. Having said that another question presented is how can you know which problems are worthy of being solved? If it’s only your problem you can cross that one off. A problem worthy of solving must be one faced by many people. This also needs to be a real problem, meaning, you can’t imagine one or find one for the purpose of having something your solution is solving. When problems are found for solutions, these solutions rarely provide value.
Innovation, or incremental improvement is also a great way to create value. If you can find something people already love and make it better by solving real and worthy problems in the existing thing, value will undoubtedly be created.
Now that you have a worthy problem of solving and a solution to that problem the final test must be applied. Will people pay for it?
Money is, of course, a form of value. It’s the form of value most commonly transacted in. If people are unwilling to give you value for the value you created it's questionable how real the problem you're solving is or how valuable your solution is.
Another reason you must charge money for your solution is its longevity. Resources cost money and we live in a competitive world. If your project is good but does not make money someone else will create the same thing in a way that does make money. If your project doesn't make money it will not have the resources to grow or survive. Eventually it will need to be shut down since it's not self sustaining.
These are just some thought's I had while staring out the window of a coffee shop. If you got anything from this it should be...
If you provide value to the world, the world will provide value to you.