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Ask HN: What are 100K dollar ideas but not million dollar ideas?
176 points by abrocks on Nov 24, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 196 comments
Forget about billion dollar ideas, I am not even interested in working on million dollar ideas. There are multiple ideas or projects which are left because they don't have potential to scale. They are very specific to a niche set of customers or teams. Many people wanted to work on the solution but dropped off as they had bigger fishes to fry or knew the idea wouldn't scale. But the idea would scale up to a certain limit.

e.g. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2022/08/man-who-built-isp-instead-of-paying-comcast-50k-expands-to-hundreds-of-homes/

I believe that every village needs to solve their own problem and and may be in a different way(based upon the resources they have) as the external help may not arrive. The solution also need not go to cities as it is very specific to the village. This man got a project working after passing the initial inertia. His company may not scale beyond a certain limit but I guess that's okay.

What do you think would be those kind of ideas?

My startup ideas :)

I've been designing and building audio software and hardware components for musicians since I was a teenager. VST plugins to start, then moved on to digital guitar effects and now Eurorack synth modules. I've also built custom midi controllers, traditional guitar pedals, you name it, I've designed and built it.

I have absolutely no doubt that I could build a small, semi-successful company around these products, that would turn over 200-300k per year, with a nice profit margin. In fact, I've made quite detailed business models which make me very confident in that.

My problem, however, is that I am extremely well employed (like probably many other readers here :) and that just won't compete with my current paycheck; which also comes with job security, low stress, and vacation days (I'm on the UK). These ideas would also be very difficult or impossible to grow into million dollar+ annual sales, as they are targeted at very niche audiences.

So I've been stuck in this half-way place, where I have a bunch of products, mostly finished, even polished (and I work on this stuff because I LOVE doing it, that's the only reason), and every time I have to make a decision whether to open source it and give it away or try to monetise it. So far, it's all gone the open source way, but I have a couple of projects I'm holding back because I think I might be able to sell them to another company for a decent amount.

Thinking about all those meta/alphabet/twitter employees being let go these days, I wouldn't be surprised if we're about to see an explosion in cool, scrappy tech startups, from people who've been in my situation, and decided to use this as an opportunity to build their little dream startup - I hope so!

You have golden handcuffs :).

As long as you're not unhappy with your day job, that's great. If you are unhappy, then you have a passion project/domain that you already have good progress in.

It's easy to give advice, so I'll give some. Make a 6 month plan toward quitting your day job (reducing financial burdens, winding down unnecessary expenses, generally preparing for no income). Make some potential plans for how you might fill your days with regard to your audio work. If you don't do this step, you may find yourself feeling lost or aimless and consequently not as happy as you would have expected.

But here's the best part, I think: start using some of your free time to go to conferences and shows where audio tech is a feature. Show some of your stuff, or at least talk to others about it. Where this could lead is vast and somewhat unpredictable, but it might be a lot of fun and it likely could lead to something solid.

Meanwhile, focus on one or two of your projects and try to get them polished enough to setup a storefront and promote (assuming you're not already doing this).

Maybe it never reaches your current job income, but it might get close enough that you decide it was worth it. And if not, there will always be more jobs waiting.

There was a time when I questioned decisions like Amazon hiring[1] 50k tech workers along with Google, FB and other tech giants, because I did not understand their value to the company, when it seemed like they do not absolutely 'need' that level of tech workers.

Now I think I do:

1. Those engineers will less likely to upend the apple cart by inventing something that could disrupt business 2. Those engineers will be kept away from competition, where they could do something to help competition

Those tech workers are sufficiently happy that leaving is typically not an optimal choice.

FWIW, I am just typing aloud. So please correct me if you see a flaw in that reasoning.


Denying your competition human resources you don't really need yourself is a strategy I've seen in real life. Can't comment on the other points.

on hardware my understanding is that industry is the closest thing we now have to the computer boom before personal computers. Off the shelf products sold by retailers are pretty poor and not cheap with acceptable margin, often get hacked by demanding users on fixed budgets. High performance stuff requires actual hardware expertise and artisan craft, very expensive, low volume, made to order, and the margin is probably close to minimum wage. It's an industry thats run on passion, my pessimistic take is guitar insurance is likely much easier and far more lucrative.

I’ve always been interested in writing VSTs, but haven’t really known where to start (I also need a motivating idea for one, but I’m sure that would come.) Do you have any resources that you would recommend for an experienced programmer and composer?

VST 2 was not so hard as you would imagine to get started. They are just a dll with a well defined interface. Sadly 2 is now deprecated by Steinberg but probably available. Don't know about VST 3.

However ... getting deep into DSP is another thing!

Check out the valhalla blog for DSP stuff. https://valhalladsp.com/blog/

Also, you might want to checkout CLAP rather than VST https://cleveraudio.org/

Or even better: https://github.com/iPlug2/iPlug2. Similar to JUCE but with a permissive license.

Checkout the JUCE framework, it makes a lot of stuff easier

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the market for musicians’ audio software and hardware is underdocumented. Despite this outstanding explosion (especially software), I fail to find "insiders" or dedicated open communities writing articles or books on the business side. You mostly hear the musical side because that's what the audience wants at kvr or SOS...

Don't you think this will give people like you (especially those not well connected) more granular insight to take the decisions they are hesitant about?

Personally. I'm just curious. I've been using VSTs for 20 years, and I find this power fascinating. So, I'm intrigued by all the human and market dynamics behind the scenes that make it possible.

Sadly, in our current system, less economic growth = less money is given to musicians = less money musicians give to tool creators. This may not even be a linear chain, so the effect get a whole worse at the end point (if you know what I mean)

Definitely agree there's not much in the way of going from idea to business. I'd love to read this sort of thing too.

There's a little bit of this on the Valhalla blog[1] IIRC (great reading if you're into DSP tech). You might also find pieces of insight by looking at some of the hackaday posts or by looking at some of the DIY Synth groups on facebook etc. There's definitely some interesting stories there of Kickstarters that over-promise and under-deliver (late/buggy/etc), ISLA Kordbot[2] springs to mind as an example that was a long wait, as well as some darlings like the Oxi One[3]. Perhaps reading Kickstarter comments and the associated forum posts could be a viable strategy for getting more into this field.

[1]: https://valhalladsp.com/blog/

[2]: https://www.islainstruments.com/product/kordbot/

[3]: https://oxiinstruments.com/

I think you have to go to industry events like NAMM and so forth. You’re not going to find experts just giving away their knowledge on the Internet openly

Same thing with medical tech, energy tech, etc.

Web and to some extent games are a lot more open (and larger) than most fields

I decided to launch products several times (alone or with 1-2 friends) and, while I got some decent passive revenue, I was able to reach 250k per year profit only once - and not forever, that opportunity actually dried up completely.

My startup on which we poured 3 years of work by 10 people, failed to ever earn back the money spent on it.

I think you are underestimating how hard it is to sell and how fleeting can success be.

Fascinating! Every time I read articles or papers on advances in ML I always daydream about their application to guitar tone, synth and sound design. I wonder how long until I can analyze a song section as input that allows me to play that exact tone/synth?

Ozone has an analysis section in one of their apps/ plug-ins. Sorry, cant link but you/ the app listen to a section of music and the software sets itself up to recreate that eq. What you seem to be actually describing, though, is listening to a section of music and re-creating a single instrument tone within that(?). Them's called your ears, or some software can do a poor rendition of it. But every note change/ background change would be confusing. Having said that, some software has come close, but i bet the 3 letter guys (and the ntsb)have access to the best equipment (to mainly isolate voices).

Do you think that if you went through the process of creating a $200k/year company that you might pick up on something else that could also make $200k/yr, be it a new product or a way to expand your current one?

The good old golden handcuffs

do you have someplace we can check your stuff?

There's always room at the bottom in logistics and scheduling. Find a local business that currently depends on guesswork, intuition and experience in managing their inventory or supplies or other shipments. Every bakery and independent pizza shop has point-of-sale software now, but how many have back-end software that reads the sales figures and can tell them to order [sugar, flour, cheese] before they run out? Even better if it looks back at previous years and suggests appropriate increases for holidays, school graduations and similar periodic events.

Once you've got the structure and interface right, start customizing according to requirements. Does a rural area run on delivered kerosene and propane? Schedule deliveries to customers according to the local temperatures and a per-client adjustment reflecting their historical usage.

Most of all, make it easy and obvious for your clients to use every day. Talk to them about their professional networks -- is there a forum or a mailing list where they discuss the business side? Get mentioned, get recommended. Be easy to talk to.

> Every bakery and independent pizza shop has point-of-sale software now, but how many have back-end software that reads the sales figures and can tell them to order [sugar, flour, cheese] before they run out?

Huh, I basically just spent my entire week working on this for our bakery (and the last 6 months on other software and systems like recipe management, team messaging, online sales, social marketing and more). We're using Odoo which has a lot of the pieces already there, I need need to write a few custom modules to link them up and make them bakery specific.

While I've been doing this, I've been thinking about how most small businesses couldn't do this. Partly technical know-how. But on a deeper level, they wouldn't even think about it, because a lot of people who run small businesses like bakeries are not technical and don't want to be and they can't afford to hire someone who is. And I've been wondering how to solve that problem - or if I'd want to, because as you say, it's not a million dollar idea. But it is an empowering idea for small businesses everywhere.

Does it need to be solved? There’s usually just a person or two handling ordering and they usually know the business better than software is going to.

Can you share more about what you've built? I've got a bakery in Chicago and I'd love to learn more about the things you're building. Contact info in my profile.

Not to say that small businesses cheat on taxes always … but quite often they don’t want their stock to be accurately counted.

You're not wrong. And I think for very small businesses this is fine, maybe even necessary.

I guess I'm talking about one step above that, for example when a business grows beyond a single shop with just a couple of staff. At this point the you'll have an accountant and pos software and so on and inaccurately reporting stock or sales would actually take quite a bit of effort. Your staff would have to be in on it, for example. And staff that know you are dishonest are more likely to decide that they can be dishonest too, after all if the business is cheating the government surely it's ok if they cheat the business just a little bit? Overall I think it's not worth it and it's not the kind of business we want to run. I'd rather find extra efficiency elsewhere.

You hit the nail right in the head...

You should check out Toast and Xtrachef.

We are only using software that allows all data to stay on our own servers. Open source if possible.

A lot this business is penny wise dollar foolish. So it might be hard to get them cover your expenses.

Excellent suggestion. I'm doing exactly this now for a one-off client in consumer packaged goods and I'd like to productize this service.

If anybody non-technical is interested in partnering with me (technical) on this, my forwarding email's in my profile.

The bakery reminds me of my annoyance at a local bakery that often runs out of wholemeal bread by 11am or midday. Don't they realise that if people don't get the product they want when they want it, they'll go elsewhere?

Note that by definition, they sold all that they made.

It could be that efficiency -- usually oven space or mixer capacity -- causes them to make it in lots of, say, 50 loaves. If they make one lot and sell out, they make two lots -- but if the second lot doesn't sell out, they go back to making one lot a day. Better to be in demand than taking a loss on unsold product.

The psychological impact of scarcity probably continues to help the daily ru not always sell out.

I have often thought someone could make solid income going around to storage facilities, garages, attics etc and scanning in old photos and memorabilia. My dad has his mothers’, grandparents, and maybe further back in storage. Doesn’t want to send it off but does want it digitized, but doesn’t have time or equipment to do himself (nor do I). Some of it could probably be sold on eBay. So it sits and collects dust and storage fees with an uncertain future.

Seems like the perfect job for a entrepreneurial student or retiree. Would be hard to scale though unless you built up a crew of people doing it.

I'm just sorting out my late father's stuff. He was an avid photographer and so I've got hundreds - probably a couple of thousand - 35mm slides, along with a load of printed ephemera. I do have a slide scanner but it only works one at a time, so there's no way I'm going to do all those. There are a couple of places that will do it but prices are prohibitive, so I'd definitely consider a service like this.

Have you seen DigMyPics.com? I knew the owner in Phoenix, he built the whole pipeline custom. Very smart guy and cool business.

+1 for DigMyPics. I digitized more than 10k slides and photos with them and they did a phenomenal jobs.

Got dad a gift certificate for them a few years back but he’s hesitant to send the stuff off for various reasons. I disagree with him but I have to think there are plenty of people who would want the service on-site.

When I look around at the insane increases in physical storage units in the US, planning for virtual storage for the next generation seems like a good opp.

Oh it’s crazy. That he’s spending 350+/mo on storage eats me up.

Stand up from the computer and walk out the door, pretty sure you'll find your local problems there. Do local brewers need better distribution to stores? Can you connect local handymen with clients? Can you organize local neighborhood cleanup days, maybe supported by local businesses? You'll be amazed what can be done with the technology of outside, its like the internet just with real people! :) Some call it web 4.0

I like the suggestion. But learning about other peoples problems is hard.

How do they even know it’s a problem if they have no idea that it can be solved, i.e. that life without that problem is even thinkable?

It’s a bit like Ford’s saying that, if you had asked customers what they want, they’d said they want a faster horse.

In an ideal world, i would love to walk you to random people in the street, invite them to have a coffee with me, and let them tell me about their life and their work. And i am sure that, eventually, in pretty much all of those conversations, I’d find something I can help them with.

Do you see a better way?

If I dropped you off in some city, and you’d have to find ten high value business ideas merely from talking to strangers about their real world needs, how would you do it?

Or, if anyone here has done it in actuality, how did you do it?


I do not think targeting random people and trying to have a conversation about their problems is a good tactic... May I suggest first to find a community that you care of and participate with actively then problems will rise.

> Do local brewers need better distribution to stores?

Probably, but state laws (varying from bad to worse) make alcohol distribution one of the more heavily regulated things you could try to "fix".

NJ has entered the chat!

X has entered the chat is a funny meme and all, but most of us have no idea what it is referring to. If there's something interesting behind the meme, it would be nicer to elaborate on it.

All of it is addressed by FB groups or FB pages. There is no money in that. Handymen are booked 3 weeks into future they don’t have time to discuss some Internet stuff with me.

Web 0.1-alpha?

$100k financially makes little sense for any professional because it completely ignores the risk attached - I suspect you are between 1 and 2 orders out (although you are very unclear how much time you are looking at spending).

I suspect it is easier to think of it in time invested and returned: if you invest a year of time at a 10x risk, you need to get 10 years of early retirement to cover that risk. That is easier to back-calculate how much you need to bank to reward your risk - 10 years of after tax income is a huge figure for most people (far far more than your $100k).

VCs target 30-times return for each individual investment to cover their risk, and they spread their risks over multiple investments. You usually have only one concentrated investment, so a sensible target profit for yourself alone could easily be $10 million if you have high earnings, and the revenue target is probably much much higher than that (depending on profit margin, and dilution, etcetera).

There are a few mitigations that could lower the multiplier. I regarded starting a business as university-of-practicality, so I also valued learning. I had also said no to previous valuable opportunities in my past, so I knew the regret and opportunity cost of saying no. If you can do something on the side and slowly ramp up the proof-of-profitability, you can dramatically reduce risk and so far lower profitability is needed (but beware of the slow ugly death at one_second_per_second of time wasted on a failing business). Many people value autonomy highly (although beware that it is common to make clients your boss, and end up with a lack of autonomy in your own business).

Background: I founded a business over a decade ago that has let me semi-retire, however in hindsight I am still unsure it was worthwhile, because there are other serious costs and risks beyond my time investment.

Maybe the point isn't about the amount but the type of businesses that do not scale well and interest few people ? And 100k can be huge in some places if you think at the earth scale ;-)

There was one I looked into building to solve a problem, which was gasket printing. If you are having motorcycle or other engine repair done, waiting for a gasket can take a week or sometimes more depending on supplier location, and it's something printed from gasket paper.

A website where you can print aftermarket gaskets on demand, and even do it with CAD files or derive them from edge detection in photos would make its money by shipping faster than OEMs, and without worrying about inventory. Retooling an existing custom sticker printing business would do it. Unit margins are like 100x the cost of the paper, and shipping cost margin is the other one.

I love this idea. I've been desperate enough to reuse gaskets in a few repairs, and suffer oil leaks down the line. Usually it was because of back ordered gaskets that would be weeks or months out. Riding season in Canada is short, so... Take the risk and reuse. If you can ship in a week, I'm a customer.

I also had that idea. I came at it from the side of thinking about using computer vision for (semi) automated CAD file production, and gaskets was one of the best usecases I could come up with.

One the fulfilment side, gaskets can be laser cut, and there are services which offer this on demand. Batching up multiple orders into a sheet would make it more cost efficient, along with always printing Nx the required amount and then stock the rest.

Custom gaskets and orings seems like a great and relatively simple business. Have you tested the idea?

Other than asking my mechanic if he would buy from me (answered strong yes), no, I have not tested it. I look forward to seeing the Launch HN or product hunt launch if you or someone runs with it. It could be run out of a small town near to an airport somewhere, 2-3 employees. Website could have where in the queue your job was. Complementary goods for extra margin could be in small, specific lubricants (food grade, heat resistant, etc) in mini bottles and packs, assorted washers and bolts, basically small stuff that you order while you are getting something else that saves you a car trip.

I had this same idea a few years back while rebuilding my classic Suzuki GS850 motorcycle. Parts and gaskets are not hard to find for most old Suzukis (thankfully) but there are plenty of older motorcycles, cars, and other engine-related equipment where if you need a gasket, your only option is to make one. Many gaskets are intricate enough that making one by hand is extremely time-consuming, and that's assuming you have the tools and skill to make a gasket. (Even many experienced mechanics don't.)

I hit on the idea when my wife bought a vinyl cutter, which is basically a 2D plotter with a knife instead of a pen. I don't know if anyone makes an affordable cutter that can cut through gaskets (the material is thick and full of knife-dulling materials like fiberglass, metal, and carbon) but if they do, this is a totally doable business. I envision a web site where users can select an existing gasket from their database and have it cut and shipped. Or, if the gasket they want isn't yet in the system, they can draw it out using a vector tool (perhaps tracing over an uploaded photo or scanned image of the gasket). Select the material, provide credit card info and shipping address, and you get a gasket in a week or less.

I wouldn't mind working with someone on this. My strong suit is not coding but I'm okay at project management, research, and architectural stuff. If anyone is interested in chatting about it, feel free to contact me.

There are plenty of companies that will custom-manufacture gaskets for prototyping/custom 1-off jobs, though I don't know if they're generally geared up to sell to end-customers in a streamlined way.

The tools generally used are "flash cutters"[1] (the industrial version of your wife's vinyl cutter); waterjet cutters; or laser cutters. They're all CNC controlled. You need a DXF or other vector file to send to these machines. They're often quite user-friendly now, with either projectors or cameras to help position the cuts on the workpiece, and vacuum-beds which make holding down material quick and easy.

[1] https://cutting-systems.co.uk/flashcut-flex-series-2/


SendCutSend (and probably others) do laser cutting on gasket grade cork and ship orders relatively quickly. You could probably use them as your fulfillment system, leaving you the work to make the gasket database and website. More work or a more expensive fulfillment service would be needed to brand your orders.

They also make all sorts of stuff out of various metals, paint the metals, thread them, etc. They have greatly expanded my capabilities as a hobbyist who is not a machinist.

in the UK most villages/small towns without a school have very old residents with no real village population replacement (people die of old age and the big old cold houses are bought by increasingly wealthy retirees leaving urban environments). The current residents need increasing amounts of care and infrastructure but there isn't anybody nearby of working age (compounded by the fact that NIMBY policies have driven village houses to unobtainable prices for average families and rentals are usually very rare).

more of a socio-economic observation but it's a problem that needs solving for each village - the current solution is government subsidy from urban areas to pay for care workers and pharmacy to drive around all day in the countryside to see people for a few mins each

I'm thinking if each rich old person in the village paid a subscription for a dedicated local care team who lived together in a nice house in the village (like 30x people paying £1000 a month to support 5 people) then that would be a balance for a very decent care wage + consistent high quality care

This idea could be scaled (and likely is implemented somewhere) to big $$$. This is essentially a last-mile care system which could be contracted by governments to do what, in this case (not all cases), private industry can be more efficient at doing.

I don't think it has to scale though, maybe it can but it might just perpetuate poor conditions for care workers

I think it could be as simple as a few standardised processes and contracts. If a village wants to try it they follow the steps and set it up themselves

Aka, increasing taxes and increasing pay to quality of life at work ratios for healthcare workers.

government involvement is the root of the problem, care used to be familial and community responsibility which we abandoned. I'm already paying the highest average tax rate since the war to pay for current pensions that are unfunded and thereby expect future generations to give me their money when I'm old. Poor outcomes

I would have thought that agglomeration of economic opportunities and desirable quality of life in urban areas for working age populations is some of the “root” of the problem.

And also the aging demographics, leaving fewer and fewer younger age people to support more and more older people.

>I'm thinking if each rich old person in the village paid a subscription for a dedicated local care team who lived together in a nice house in the village (like 30x people paying £1000 a month to support 5 people) then that would be a balance for a very decent care wage + consistent high quality care

What is your basis for thinking 5 people would have the expertise to support 30 old people, and they would do it for 6k pounds per month each, and live in a single house together?

I highly doubt that a person would go through years of grueling medical training to live that lifestyle.

I live in a shared house with a doctor who earns <£4k a month and works 60 hours a week

most care staff are on £12 an hour where I live

a care home ratio of 1 staff to 6 members is good, (1 nurse + 3 carers to 30 people is not uncommon for a shift)

Not looking to promote my site here but I will do it anyway because it may be useful for you: https://microfounder.com

There are currently 200 founders making $1.6M per month with their solo startups.

Question: How can your platform help me besides rendering me in awe of other founders?

One thing is motivation – to show that it's possible and many solo devs are running profitable interent startups.

But also, you can read Q&A-s with the founders about how they started, got their first customers, etc.

Yet, people don't need motivation. They need to make movements. Deciding to do something is not the same as doing it. I can still see the value in learning what others are doing. It may offer ideas and most of them market-related, such as letting you know that, yes - there is an active market here for similar ideas/audiences. To me, that's the biggest take-away and perhaps the greatest question since it is foolish to build something and then struggling to find an audience for it. This contrasted with finding the market first, studying them, and then building out a solution around what that audience has objectively expressed as needs and wants.

Motivation? Show that it's possible?

Why should i join microfounder and not stick with indiehackers which is free?

Why not both for SEO and backlinks?

In response to someone who is explicitly uninterested in billion and million dollars ideas, you share a site about people making roughly 20 million a year?

I’m not singling you out, since this happens allllllll the time, but I truly wish you or anyone could articulate why you thought it would be helpful to share something that was by definition unhelpful or “off topic”.

Truly breaks my brain trying to fathom this behavior.

Sorry, I should have said collectively. 200 devs are making collectively $1.6M per month (most doing < $5k/mo)

Thank you!

I'm involved in maintaining a dictionary website for Cantonese. We're not strapped for cash since expenses are minimal, but if we did put up ads there (according to Google's estimate) the yearly revenue might be in the say 10+k range. So the business itself at "10 P/E" would be a roughly 100k dollar business. (FWIW, I believe the estimate is probably higher than the would-be real numbers, but then we haven't finished the dictionary itself yet.)

I think there's a lot of small-medium sized websites that fall into such a category.

> the yearly revenue might be in the say 10+k range. So the business itself at "10 P/E" would be a roughly 100k dollar business

That would be P/S (price to sales), not P/E (price to earnings/profits). Not sure about web stuff, but for other small businesses no one would pay anywhere close to 10x P/S (or P/E for that matter but profits are more valuable than revenue).

What's the website? I can only think of CantoDict.

Didn't post a link since it's not supposed to be an ad, but since somebody asked...

- https://words.hk - if you haven't heard of this yet, probably because the site is in Cantonese (yeah, this is a novel thing, a Cantonese-Cantonese dictionary...)

- https://cantowords.com - This is an English version recently launched this year. The page rank or whatever SEO thing isn't up to speed yet, so there's not a lot of page views for this one yet.

BTW -- For these types of discussions, I think it is fine to share links. Don't feel bad. You can also add a disclaimer: "Sorry if this looks an advert." People will respect that here. :)

And good luck with your business!

My favorite $100k idea to share is starting a landscaping business. The startup cost is small, you grow through hustle and good work, and the ability to expand to multiple employees/crews is there as you expand.

I think it's something just about anyone can do as it doesn't require special training.

> the ability to expand to multiple employees/crews is there as you expand.

Finding reliable, motivated employees who will work for you and not themselves is the challenge that makes this type of business exceptionally hard to scale, from what I’ve been told.

You're well beyond $100k/yr at that point. A single person with a lawn mowing company can make $100k/yr.

How much is profit on that?

It's mostly profit. You have the upfront cost of equipment but then you're just paying for consumables like fuel. Its basically a manual labor job of converting your time and effort into money.

I think it's kind of implied that a 100k _doesn't_ scale.

This idea is a good one for local, but can be crowded. Search Reddit for starting a maid service or lawn service for templates and experiences.

And google “maid/lawn service <city>” for your city and adjacent ones and you might find people using that playbook.

It's a good model for someone with minimal skills and/or capital who is willing to hustle. If you have work, then go do it, if you don't have work, be going door to door handing out flyers and talking to potential customers.

If you can go all electric you might gain an advantage too. The town I live in banned gas powered leaf blowers because people got fed up with the constant noise (houses are close together), especially when working from home. Combine that with online scheduling/payments. But it does't seem like an "easy" business either.

I work on 2 $100k ideas

Bear Blog (https://bearblog.dev) JustSketchMe (https://justsketch.me)

Both are profitable enough to keep me quite comfortable while being niche enough to not appeal to any company with VC funding.

How do you make money with Bear Blog? Are you able to give any details about the finances (i.e., revenue and how much time you work on it after the initial development)? How do people find the solution?

I work on a niche eCommerce app (https://www.bestsellerapp.net) that I only sell in Colombia for now.

Is mostly about making orders/invoices for small companies.

A LOT of people are like me that work in this space that you never heard of. Doing the "same" kind of apps that have a bigger brand but because we serve locally can do a better job there.


Other option is open source. I think https://tablam.org could become an Access/excel option for my customers for the same reasons.

Open source itself is not very profitable (heck, I love to work more on TablaM than my ecommerce app but that one is what bring food).

For months now, I've been thinking and backing off from building a virtual queue for small shops (think barbers, food stalls at events, anything where people queue up)

Scan a qr code, get in line. Or via a url or app.

Sounds simple enough, useful enough. Friends easily pointed out issues with how this could go wrong and with very little extra time after work, I dropped it.

Comments on this thread just stirred it all up.

Had the same idea for a cafè at the beach we visit often. Reserve your place in the queue without having to actually stand there. Then again, if people don’t have to pay the price of standing in line, wouldn’t the line just get longer and longer? Maybe a better approach would be to send in orders. And the business accepts them based on availability and order size. If it’s busy and you just want a coffee, you won’t get a seat. But you will if you’ll order three burgers plus drinks.

so this is Uber eat now. I can't connect before read your comments haha.

I feel like you could align a lot of the incentives here with an X cent “line charge” or something similar?

You get 10min, 5min push notifications, then if you aren’t in the store within 1 min of your spot in line being called, you forfeit the X cents. But if you are then they give you a discount on whatever your buy so the “line charge” nets out.

However, I’m not sure if there exists an X such that A) you’ll risk it for the convenience but B) it’s enough to actually compensate the store if you don’t go

(Could be some interesting behavioral econ approaches there, maybe?)

Fun to think about, thanks for sharing!

I ended up building this as an open-source project https://github.com/barakplasma/in-person-queue and got intimidated when it came to marketing & selling it (for free)

what about this: https://www.qmatic.com/solutions/virtual-queuing-system ? isnt this idea implemented already by various entities?

I like it. Some restaurants hand out little pagers, this could substitute for those.

The fair ticket sale auction from this [1] submission. Sell concert tickets in a Dutch auction to prevent scalpers.

This will remain small because the profitable real estate is locked but it could be an option for the remaining small venues.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=33666013

You could lobby Congress. The Taylor Swift fiasco has Rep Ocasio-Cortez looking at investing Ticketmaster.

Plugins for various things - browsers (Firefox / Chrome extensions), apps (Figma), and platform providers (Salesforce, Shopify, etc). Find a feature that is needed but not offered, build a plugin for it, sell. Some of these have built-in monetization infrastructure so you don't need to roll your own.

This is probably an underserved area, actually. There are a lot of patterns of behavior we each have which involve our browsers, and there's probably room for some usage optimization extensions.

Do you know of a good site that focuses on browser extension reviews and discussions? I now realize I could probably find things which would improve my life, but I don't feel like doing a random walk through the general extension page of Firefox.

I think the main direction of $$$K dollar ideas are those in the area of consulting, do those count? It can scale well beyond that, but at that point you're an agency.

I believe that coming up with product ideas that can work at the indie level (bootstrapped/without raising millions) is a matter of training, validating the idea is the hardest part (and not falling into the trap of building it first). The main target of those ideas is often something that can sustain you with under a hundred customers, which rules out building a new social network.

One idea I had recently is on the edge of consumers and businesses: it might make sense to have groupon-like websites for niches. These could be geographical, or around a certain activity. For instance if you are into craft beer, why not create a "deal" website for it? Call up shops that sell brewing equipment, walk in to local bars and ask if they would like to come up with some craft beer tasting event. The model is here that you get a kickback if people take you up on your offers. The more niche the better.. It could be as specific as "young parents who love craft beer and live in New York". That sounds like it could be in the 100k range.

A small plug, for fun I've been writing up some ideas that fit this description [0].

[0]: https://indieideas.substack.com/archive?sort=new

Call around 100 high net worth individuals. Tell them you're looking to build an app to help them manage all aspects off their life. Relationship with spouse, how to handle vices, deal flow, whatever. The point is that there are a lot of high net worth people that want something to simplify their life.

For example, "when I get in the car and it is after 6pm but before 9pm and the car is headed west on the 401, text my wife that I just got on the highway and I'm headed home."

Charge $8k per month. Someone will take you up on it.

This is actually a job - a personal assistant - and almost anyone who can afford $8k per month for one already has 2 [=

Yea they’d likely do a better bloody job than an app too…

You say that, but the nice thing about an app is that they don't go to sleep.

> What are 100K dollar ideas but not million dollar ideas?

Paying $8 for Twitter Blue

I would say any itch you get during the day could be a 100k idea, but don't forget to search if there is a suitable solution. I think too many programmers want to code the wheel when something already exists. And if it's unwieldy to use, try to acquire the product and repackage it for a non-dev audience.

And look at https://tinyprojects.dev/projects, it has some 100k ideas (imho).

A 'house doctor'. Perhaps a subscription service where someone routinely (annually?) inspects your home for potential issues before they become a bigger problem: termites, roof/gutters, electrical, plumbing, yard drainage, foundation, etc.

You could try working in small walled gardens. Like, for example, extension stores for various shopping cart software. Lurk around the forums for something like opencart, shopify, etc, and you can usually find some niche that isn't covered. Like a module for a lesser known payment gateway. Or find a popular addon that's overpriced, buggy, etc, and release a competitor.

10k idea at best:

I am the creator of 2bored2wait [0], a proxy that does stuff that is useful if you are a regular player on the minecraft server 2b2t.org. the current implementation is buggy, slow, in javascript and has a lot of tech debt.

An interesting fact about 2b2t is that because it is an anarchy server, it has not rules against using cheats and players won't get banned for using them. This means that there is a subset of players with too much money that likes to spend it on some flavor of paid hacked clients, some with monthly subscription.

I think there is a business somewhere to rewrite 2bored2wait in a faster language, integrate it well in a hacked client and/or as a service and sell that for a monthly fee or whatever, but i haven't even had the drive to do it for the sake of open source, even less so for creating a saas product that at most 100 people would use.

Let me share an idea.

Imagine lifestyle subscriptions. You have an app that is a digital catalogue where you type in your salary and then it tells you what packages you can buy with your salary.

Think of it as a life personal trainer and adviser with a shop attached.

* Coffee at Starbucks every other morning on way to work

* Gym once a week

* You could get a job at these companies if you tried.

* I drink coca cola or Pepsi with my pizza

* I drive a Prius and I want a max 1 hour drive

* Move to X neighbourhood

* I am a vegan or I am vegetarian

* I cook at home

* I go to a restaurant once a month

* I subscribe to Netflix only

* I am learning to play the piano. Here's the address of the place you can learn and practice.

Use recommendation algorithm and futures to reserve restaurant tables.

Allow user generated curriculum to get your desired lifestyle.

Integrate with calendar and meetup.com

It's a one stop shop for following any dream

Schedule your life to work towards a goal

This seems like a good idea. The consumer gets a discount, the store gets high quality info about future demand.

The company would be a logistical powerhouse and person expert

They would know how to produce good results from people subscribing to be musicians or vegans for successful outcomes. They could send you instruments or food parcels. They would schedule your week socially and free time. Watch this show.

They would be measurers.

They would be marketing experts.

The goal is to sell someone a dream and to live the dream.

Retro-themed hipster mini-golf, with glowing balls, good food and an alcoholic Icee machine. Ideally called Astro-golf, with a bunch of old rocket-ships and space stuff scavenged from a long defunct mini-golf or similar amusement park from the 50s-70s.

I work in the trucking and consumer banking industry industry. A $100K idea is buying your own truck and becoming a trucker, shipping goods from one state to another. This is a billion dollar industry right now and is booming like crazy.

I watch a few of those YT channels and it seems like a race to the bottom. Truckers in debt and driving at prices just to make payments, brokers taking advantage of everybody and every truck built in the last decade with all sorts of electrical and emissions issues.

Now, if I had a $1B to disrupt that industry with some Uber model…

Any videos you specifically recommend? Would be interested in learning about it more on the practical side, my org just does invoice factoring to help truckers get paid more quickly.

Years back, I’d met a couple that did team driving (they could go 20 hours a day). They were raking it in. $300-400K/yr as owner-operators. Sounded sweet.

I don’t watch older guys lately, lots of grousing. Gas prices, inflation, Mexicans, Biden, etc. Those that have a lot of time and long-term relationships with brokers have it good, others who seem like asses probably explains why they’re always whining.

younger guys who I watched under the assumption “I lose job, what would it be like”: https://www.youtube.com/@DrivenTrucking/videos https://www.youtube.com/@ALEXTHETRUCKINGGUY https://www.youtube.com/@alexnino_ https://www.youtube.com/c/smigclick/videos

I think if you’re young, can get ratings and work for non-sociopath corps you can make a decent salary now. But a lot of people who try to be owner operators get over their heads very quickly, trucks are super expensive now, don’t know how to work on their truck, and lose their shirts (or drive for $2/mile and ruin it for everyone else).

I think it’s like any industry, shippers of old were loyal and now everything is commoditized. It’s a giant traveling salesman problem where it just seems like it shouldn’t be so hard, but shippers/brokers are failing/retiring and n00bs take over and efficiency is out the window.

tangential question, does buying an electric truck seem like it would make sense due to lower fuel costs?

Depends on the range, as long as its within 260 miles or so for anything available on the market right now. Tesla claiming up to 500 miles in the future but who knows if they are actually working on that given Musk's current distraction.

Win a government contract is the easiest and most straightforward one I can think of. Support some legacy codebase, take care of big company stuck with old software, help them transition or offer infinite support.

This is something that would be right up my alley but I am under the impression that government contracts (in the US at least) are not easy to land because the barrier to entry is high and the competition is fierce. The process is so bureaucratic that most of the business effort is landing the contract in the first place, producing the thing under contract is almost an afterthought in comparison, and that part is often sub-contracted out. This is part of the reason we hear stories about millions of dollars and months of effort being spent on 30% of a CRUD website that a talented full-stack developer could have whipped out in under a week.

And in the IT space, your competition is companies like Lockheed Martin... Although you might have a leg up if your company is veteran-, woman-, or minority owned, see Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

I think unfortunately here is exactly the wrong place to ask: we're in the center, and close to the pure-tech world. The small business ideas left are, almost by definition, in communities that aren't quite so online and well-connected.

There are plenty of good ideas in pure tech. I believe they are mostly in the small niche communities that are online that just aren’t well known - build something that a small die hard group will pay for. I’m more a fan of subscription money / fee-for-service than ad money which is inconsistent and requires lots of eyeballs.

I own a handful of profitable small online businesses and I’m building another in my spare time. You can tell by my user name where a lot of opportunity for small time programmers are (crypto in general really) but HN is ideologically opposed to that industry despite the profit opportunities being massive.

And finally I don’t want to reveal any here because I believe Peter Thiel when he writes that “every business has a secret”. On the surface level they are selling XYZ but the reason they win in a competitive market is only known to those running it.

Curious about your products, mind to share just one, perhaps one in which the secret isn't such an advantage?

In the crypto space the long tail of projects suffer from lack of devs and there is always a need for new tools. Often the DAOs running the treasury can vote to provide you money to build it.

In the traditional space I had a fairly profitable tool that was for a puzzle-like F2P game (think similar to Words with Friends) that ranked highly on Google. That was ad supported but the hardcore players of the game would use it. I wound up selling it for $5k on an app flipper website when the traffic started to decline as the game got older.

A “Jump to Conclusions” mat.

That is the worst idea I've heard in my life Axien.

Things that have to do with code, but not product, that uniquely qualify your existence are your 6 figure ideas. Examples:

* Architecture - Most people writing code cannot plan, write, or envision an original solution to something wildly ambitious. This takes practice and with enough practice it gets comfortable and easy, but most people writing code will never get to that point. A mastery of architecture is possibly the only way to produce a superior product compared to the competition provided that business requirements remain unchanged.

* Performance - Astonishingly most people never measure anything unless they are forced to. Learning to measure things (everything) is a cognitive skill and the result is the difference between a 2 hour work day and an 8 hour work day. Measuring things is also the only way to write fast software, because everything else is guessing (and probably guessing wrong by several orders of magnitude). At the end of the day performance is not about how fast something this, but how much faster it is than something else.

* Writing, especially bridging the gap between technical writing and narrative writing for common people.

Putting 10k down at 10-1 on the first race at Chepstow.

>What are 100K dollar ideas but not million dollar ideas?

It's the kind where it's so common you think of one every day.

It's also not that much, 100K USD has never been lower in value, so that trend is moving in your favor too.

That's why they say ideas like this are worthless, but they're wrong.

In perspective, though, when a company pays somebody 50K it really costs the company about 100K anyway, and there are companies all over the place where that's what they pay people who are not expected to produce anything at all. We all know how many bullshit jobs there really are.

So there's lots of people every day who have ideas more wortwhile than their actual job.

Every once in a while it's a million dollar idea but it can be kind of hard to tell and usually slips under the radar.

Since it requires a different type of action to get the ball rolling either way, 10X remains just as far out-of-reach as an uneconomical venture.

Now the 100K amount is a good example benchmark, but you can also think about things like 250K etc.

Some ideas I had:

Launching boats as a service. I pick up your boat, launch it and all you have to do is get in. Comes with a matching extraction and cleaning service.

Online dating management service. Have a process takes photos, creates the profile and then a recurring subscription to have a person do messaging for you and arrange dates. Hire college gals to generate the initial leads.

A service to tack all the local kids classes and events, keep track of sign up dates and such. Have a super premium service that signs people up automatically when the spots open.

Extra Garbage pickup as a service. While everyone is required to have basic garbage service you can easily undercut the garbage company for anything non standard or extra.

Rental service for high quality tools. Let people rent festool, sawstop, and other high end items.

The best of these would be something related to a lifestyle business you are interested in as a hobby or would do for fun anyway. So if it doesn't generate a lot of income you are still having fun - importing/selling wine, something to do with antique motorbikes etc.

Your question implies you are looking for tech ideas and your skills are in building software or services. The other side is applying high tech to areas of business that aren't very high tech at the moment - think about all the small or local businesses that still thrive that can barely get a website together and couldn't afford to hire a decent developer or even have the skills to manage a software project - if tech can improve that business you can differentiate yourself.

There is shitloads of money to be made in Idaho off of the national nuclear labs there. Can you machine simple parts and secure an American supply chain? Can you get security clearance? Can you handle living in that state that has such horrible governance?

It's clear to me that very few of the HN'ers have children. As I have a 3yr toddler and trying to help him navigate this somewhat unforgiving ugly world as of now. It's hard for me to find him that isn't ADHD or Corporatized msgs. $100k idea? Make small but meaningful children apps. Just tonight alone trying to steer him away from ADHD inducing mindless apps and videos. I spent $20 more meaningful content for him. I'm looking into this myself as... Necessity is a mother of all inventions.

Can you give more concrete examples of good apps, i have kids but they allready far from this age ..

An app that inventories all your tools and checks them out when they are borrowed. SMS messages constantly nag your neighbor to return said tool(s) after a specific time interval. Sell with ads or go ad-free for $.99

I have wanted something like this that is voice controlled, but laser focused on remembering where things are stored. I don't think it would slow anything down to say things like "im putting a 1tb micro sd card in cabinet 4, shelf 2" while physically doing it. Then months later saying "im looking for an sd card" and being told out loud where to check. It could use entirely pre-set commands, be always listening but with 100% local processing and storage, and simplicity of the interface would be it's strength. I would run it on some kind of simple dedicated hardware as part of the space it inventories, rather than on a phone.

I really like this idea.

One area I find interesting is ergonomic computer keyboards. My daily driver is a Kyria (https://docs.splitkb.com/hc/en-us) running 20cN choc switches. That's one you make and customise yourself, but there are quite a few companies that make their own designs for sale (e.g. https://shop.keyboard.io). These would be of about the scale you mention.

So recently i implemented small sideproject which is interesting (at least in my opinion) - https://cyclecountmanager.com Basically i extracted stock/inventory count functionality out of warehouse management system into its own "service". I think its quite versatile and can be used by many businessess and most importantly its free as for now. It relies on CSV files for data import/export but im working on the API too.

It depends, but it's likely a slight bit too small. If you're single, intend to be, and care bear the risk, it's doable.

Otherwise, if you hit by a bus (as the saying goes) you're screwed. Worse, your customers are left for dead. It's the morals / ethics of the latter that make such a size tough.

You want a size that can support two or three total employees. If you're going to serve customers you want some redundancy. Sure, others don't take such precautions, but that doesn't make it right.

The problem is that building and selling a product to 5000 people are probably the same effort as to 5 million . This is the hard part. (software related)

Every billion dollar idea is a million dollar idea.

Every million dollar idea is a 100K dollar idea.

There are always smaller segments within large segments that you can go after.

These are probably products that come out of freelancing. You see a pattern of a problem that needs to be solved in a domain and couple the product with you consulting. You get a bit of revenue from the product, but maybe also from an ongoing consulting relationship.

Managed Mastodon hosting/professionally run and moderated paid-for instances. There are more people joining now than can fit, and there’s definitely a market for both of these things.

A colleague of mine buys and sells art in his spare time and makes $100k per year

A mate of mine does similar but with golf putters of all things.

I've got a whole bag full of em:


The only problem is I can't tell you which ones are the 100k ones...

I've got a hunch that this one is solidly 100k and not million+:


Got all the hallmarks of an idea that is hard to profit/scale:

- selling to developers

- content-based (so often very manual at the beginning)

- absolutely boring (to some people) niche

[EDIT] - wait no I could see this one possibly getting big, if you strike the right "compliance and security posture" tone.

There are lots of players in the enterprise space for compliance and security of software, e.g. Black Duck. I think the trick would be to figure out where those solutions are lacking for smaller dev teams and try to serve them

Thanks for mentioning black duck — yeah this would definitely start out looking like a consultancy at first I guess

If your company is paying you $100,000 a year, then whatever it is you're working on this year is worth $100,000 to your company.

Not really, that is just a lower bound. Companies are incentivized to pay the least amount possible for labour regardless of productivity, so long as it profitable. If a company pays somebody 100k a year, it means that (1) the value produced by this person is larger than 100k and (2) the company is confident that they can find somebody else to do the job for 100k in case the worker asks for a raise.

> the company is confident that they can find somebody else to do the job for 100k in case the worker asks for a raise.

More like, the company is willing to pay more but won't do so until the worker asks for a raise, in my personal experience.

Worth way more. In theory if you’re writing product software, you helped build a money generation machine for the company that can run forever.

That's a big theory, there is plenty of waste in product companies and a small portion of the developer effort is easily responsible for the majority of revenue.

If you're talking web agencies or subcontractors, that make more sense, as the client is paying for the waste, regardless.

*worth more than $100,000

Uptime monitoring (imho as founder of OnlineOrNot)

This is a problem that is so incredibly solved it has spawned a giant industry of SaaS providers preying on the fact that a lot of engineering managers don't really understand simplicity. Raking in the cash without doing much of anything.

Why is having a high margin business a problem if the customer is getting the intended value they seek?

> a lot of engineering managers don't really understand simplicity

What’s this alluding to?

This space feels pretty crowded to me.

Out of interest, what makes you think there's still money left on the table in this domain, given all the existing products? Or rather, what do you feel all the existing products lack?

This is one of those examples that I liken to the dry cleaning business.

In any given city there may be lots of dry cleaners available. Some will be much better than others (service, performance, etc.). Some will be much cheaper than others. Some may be the perfect combination of all these things.

Unfortunately, we often don't know where the best one is. And perhaps because of another person's suggestion "affiliate marketing", it is now virtually impossible to search online to get actual reviews of things (as there are now more SEO-d review sites which are just thinly veiled affiliate marketing sites).

So we use the service we see nearby or stumble upon. It may not be the best, but we don't really know better.

The same applies to so many things in life, business or otherwise (people, friends, relationships). Thus, yet-another-monitoring-service can succeed if it gets enough customers, even if there are much better services out there.

To be clear, a 100k business only requires 170 customers paying $49 a month.

There's always underserved customers that are somehow dissatisfied.

There may stil be space for a few 100k ideas even there wouldn't it?

I use updown.io, it's cheap enough that I pay for my own instance and monitor a couple of work things as well as my own site. It's reliable and works.

So long as you can sell you just can just about turn any basic business process into a $100k idea.

And that's with just a desk, a landline, and a Rolodex.

Not in terms of 'bodyshaming', but the lockdown had done something to many people, hint: i saw some 'superfat' (obese)

now i thought 'selfdriving refrigiators' maybe a thing, and yes (with few thousand paying customers a month) it may scale to a million-dollar bizz... ^^

This question would benefit from a few more orders of magnitude. It's rarely good strategy to start on an idea that can't scale.

Ideas that don't have good marketing.

Kitten mittens

I think kitten-hair mittens would be big. And if they were also shaped like kitten paws, it would be HUGE.

Gotta reply with an old Elon joke:

Start with a billion dollar one. :-)

Affiliate marketing

Ugh. Don't we have enough of those already?

The target markets haven't increased in size, unless you're in developing countries with upwardly mobile populations.

So more affiliate marketers just means more duplication of noise, with everyone gaming ways to get the same business (or direct the same business to your companies).

If I have to watch another NordVPN ad baked into a youtube video, ...

Work for somebody else. No startup stress. No need to take it home with you. Consistent schedule. You can easily clear $100k just keeping your head down in a big company.

No need to take it home with you. Consistent schedule This is not always guaranteed and you may not have a choice regarding this once you pass a certain stage in your career. It also depends on your industry and the part of the world you live and work in. Work life balance is notoriously non-existent for a vast portion of the world's IT workers.

IT is very broad, but if we are talking about people who have the skills to build something themselves, then they’re probably not front-line IT support workers, they’re probably software engineers or some other high-demand profession.

There are definitely companies with toxic high-stress engineering environments, but workers with valued skills have the employment capital to just… opt out. If all you care about is coasting at an average salary, you can either refuse to engage with the stressful parts of the job, or get another job. You get fired? Oh well, on to the next job.

I’ve worked in jobs where I had stressed co-workers who felt like the future of the company was on their shoulders… and co-workers, on the same team, who didn’t have a care in the world, because they understood that the success of the company was not linked to how stressed they were or how many hours they worked. Their value to the company was equal, their quality of life was vastly different.

If all you want is $100k/year, and you have the skill set to build your own company, you have the skill set to get a job where you don’t have to break a sweat. There are lots of companies out there who know how to realise >$100k value from an employee in 30 hours of low-stress work per week.

The whole notion of needing a career is self imposed, it’s a choice, if you’re happy making an average salary you don’t need to be in a high stress environment.

I was just talking to my friend about this the other day. Screw getting promoted. I want to sit tight at my mid level position and make sure that I get my job done stress free. The company's success doesn't hinge on me worrying about my job after 5PM, and I highly doubt it hinges on any of the employees working/worrying past normal working hours. Honestly, how much does it benefit the company if you work your butt off every night? It's probably a drop in the bucket, it's just not worth it.

In other words, I see my company spend millions a month on AWS fees. If they wanna bump my salary considerably, then I would consider putting in more hours. But until that day comes, work life balance is my number one priority.

How many jobs have you worked in the It field ? Were they mostly in management? I ask because I disagree

individual contributor, not management. 6 companies, Europe and US. If you are in a high demand profession, there is no reason to accept mistreatment: we have the luxury of being able to vote with our feet, use it.


What’s work life balance anyway? I don’t really want a job where I work for 8 hours (plus 1.5h getting up and ready for work, plus 1h break) and then have 4 hours of life in the evening.

I once had such a job and it was horrible: I worked as an amazon warehouse associate, basically just receiving packages, sorting items, putting a barcode with asin on it, done. Loop this for 8 hours plus some additional pressure from team leads.

In the evening I didn’t even have the energy left to have any kind of “life“; and I really hated that job, so it was even more exhausting and tiring.

Now I have a job which really fulfills me, and I don’t even see it as work anymore. I have no issue with staying late, and I actually want to stay late often in order to get my stuff done; also still working at home and researching stuff in my free time. But now I don’t really have this clear border what some call work-life balance.

My opinion might not be agreeable for everyone, but maybe this viewpoint helps someone else.

Every hour you do past your normal working hours is not only free work for your employer, but it also devalues your own worth. Why would they raise you to $50 an hour, when you're willing to take your $40 and work 1.5x as much, making it $30 an hour ?

Additionally, because spending your time just working for a company is fucking miserable. If you have stuff that needs to be done still, that's a management failure, not your problem. These are all hours wasted on not seeing family, friends, enjoying other things, broadening your horizon.

I'm not calling for "come in at 8, clock out at 5 and fuck off", but spending more than a single additional evening for work is proof of terrible management and a straight up insult to your free time.

Why not have both? Earlier in my career, I was very invested in my job as well and didn't mind working 12h+ as I was learning a lot. And I think this mindset really helps to progress quickly. But at some point, it just became unsustainable. I still love my job but also my personal life outside of work.

Nothing is guaranteed. Why would you expect a guarantee?

This is the right advise. If you have the rare talent to build a 100K startup, you have also what it takes to execute above 1M. Stress and competition are the same.

In fact, stress may hardly vary between being CEO of a $100k and a $1B (annual revenue) company.

Above $1B, you can’t avoid having your name in the press, so that may increase stress on both you and your family.

"You can easily clear $100k just keeping your head down in a big company."

But when having to choose between 100k and keeping your head down and 100k and keeping your head high, I know what I would choose. Of course the latter comes with more initial stress and risk so you have to know what you want.

I hear what you are saying, but the stress and how a given individual handles it is not a small factor. In fact, I am slowly starting to discover, it appears to be one of the bigger ones.

Running your own business is stressful. It requires a level of organization apart from the skills you need to make a viable and successful product. It is not a common combination.

I guess I would not automatically equate "keeping head up high" = running your own business. I assure you even when you run your own business, you have people to answer to.

"I guess I would not automatically equate "keeping head up high" = running your own business."

Oh, for sure not. Depending on your customers and your money flow, it can also mean keeping your head very low to not loose the last contracts. And there are probably some companies, where you can keep your head high or are even encouraged to do so and no sociopath from management bites your head off for it, but values your opinion.

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