Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Got any tips on recognising a bad idea early?

Actually, yes! Again, your milage may vary but I have had a few things that have been an indicator of a bad idea. Some of this has to do with process as well.

First off, if no one wants to talk to you about your idea at all, then it's probably a bad idea. I know this one is fairly obvious but I missed it a number of times. It's important to make sure you always are trying to get customers or users. If you can't get anyone at all then you're basically not making something anyone cares about. Psychologically you may say to yourself "if I only add another feature people will listen". Life is short. They probably won't. Try another idea.

Second, if people will talk to you but won't buy your product until you add a new feature, and everyone has a different new feature, you have a product no one wants. I have tried so many times to just add the next feature that will make everything sell. It has never worked for me. I should have just stopped and found a new idea.

Third, you have a product that you don't want to sell. I know, this one sounds silly but I have had amazing product ideas but I couldn't drive myself to want to talk about it with anyone. Maybe I made myself feel better by making a landing page and crying about no one buying it every though "I was doing everything I could". But, it wasn't everything I could do. This one is a funny one because I might have been able to sell the product, I just couldn't bring myself to get up and do it. If that's the case, you have the wrong product idea FOR YOU. Stop, think of another idea, and move on.

Those are my biggest three categories right now. It all comes down to selling the product. If you can't sell it, then it's not something to work on. With my current product I love talking to customers and potential customers. I am excited and the sales line up with that excitement. They are excited to use the product. They enjoy the product and while there have been feature requests they are either a) after the sale is complete and I have money in my pocket or b) the same requests from every customer so I can tell it's a market need and not just a customer want.

Very insightful! I think these are 100% valid. I wish I had been sensitive to them before sinking a couple of years into a project. Thanks for explaining them in detail.

The interesting part for me is, I have used this advise for other people's businesses for as long as I can remember. There is something about building your own product though that somehow seems to overshadow your better judgement. I guess that is the differentiator (or possibly ultimate lesson to learn) for an entrepreneur. Can you throw out the ideas that don't work and pursue the good ones? I am still learning it, but it feels good when you get it right.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact