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Ask HN: Can I realistically build something that makes money in 6 months?
31 points by c7DJTLrn 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 22 comments
I realise variants of this question are often asked on HN, so I apologise in advance.

I'm a DevOps/Software Engineer and I've just left my job at a large company you likely know of. In short, the project I was on imploded and management were sociopaths, so I've been in a depressive state for a while. Financially speaking I'm in a good position, so I'd like to allocate 6 months to see if I can build my own thing.

I have a number of ideas, but I'm having a hard time separating the ideas I'd like to build from the ideas that will have paying customers. I don't have any prospective customers yet either. Frankly speaking, I have no experience getting people to hand over their wallet for something.

Am I out of my mind or is this doable?

(After reading the comments, I write...)

A business is made of two parts, making the product AND selling the product. There is a third part too but technical people put this under the junk drawer called "admin".

Make a small product (really small product). And sell it (for close to nothing). And grow from there. Always know and understand who your (first) customer is. They might be complete jerks, but don't of think them that way. That is just a problem you have to solve. For example, a guy makes decisions on a whim to buy a product/service, but then also on a whim can cancel the product/service. What can you do for that person? What can you sell to that person? What can you get from that person? Don't write this customer off as unworthy. (modern companies come up with these heavily discounted prices if they sign a contract to deal with just such a people!)

Serve the customer and their immediate needs. That is your shoe-in. (Dump the dreams. They are dreams around just a couple of real molecules.)

Cherish what you build. Don't downplay what you have.

Would love to get your opinion on a SaaS product I’m building. Mind if I can email you ? (Feel free to put it in ur profile for like a day)

sure. here is a burner: tiers.ground.0p at icloud

Besides the point, but how great is the growing prominence of alias generators? Proton has it built in, icloud has it built in. Haven't used google product in a long time but surely even they have an equivalent by now.

Agreed! Email technology and understanding has come along way especially with sub+aliases.

For new internet people, they should get an email that is like a random 4 character email address, suffix'd with a + subalias address. Like so: 45ty+nashashmi@aol.com. And change the suffix at will for different people, all while junk classifying anything that is not a recognized address.

The only thing is email vendors need to follow through on this and allow for emails to be sent from that address.

It's doable, but the odds are stacked against you.

Most engineers have an "if you build it they will come" mentality. And it's important to know that nothing could be further from the truth. The make or break line will be sales. If you know nothing about sales and aren't passionate about learning and leaning into it hard, then you won't see a dime.

Partner with someone who is interested in making the cold calls and pounding the pavement to get your first few customers. Work together on a pitch deck, start sketching in a few things that you can demo, and work with them hard on getting those clients.

It’s doable. The challenge typically isn’t in the actually building though, it’s in finding people willing to pay. I recommend trying to acquire customers with mock-ups / clickable prototypes. If you can get 3 or so customers to sign contracts based on that, it’s likely worth building.

Yeah this is the answer. Find the customer before building the product, and get something in their hands asap. If you spend 6 months building a polished product, it’s very unlikely you’ll get any customers. And you may even miss the mark on the problem being solved.

"Makes money" in the sense that someone will pay some money for it, absolutely. "Makes money" in the sense that it will adequately compensate you (and your collaborators), almost certainly not.

Most successful businesses take years to build (at which point they suddenly look like an overnight success to outside observers). But you can definitely prove out the concept for a product (or several) in six months -- and decide then if it's worth continuing to pursue, or if it's time to go back to a paying job.

All doable, but you have to got somewhere first paid clients.

For example, exists some services provide lists. Even exist books, literally lists of business ideas.

After about yearS of business, you could learn, how to find business opportunities yourself, so you will not depend on those external sources, but you need more than 6 months, to train your brain to understand commercial Universe, totally different from tech.

As example, in business just don't working first law of thermodynamics, because business by definition working on borders, so could get energy and matter from outside (from abroad), where it could be much cheaper than from local or near and traditional sources.

No, its not doable and everyone saying so is wrong. Contracting, consulting, freelancing are much better options than building a product. Building a product is a 7 year journey to get anywhere good.

As someone who has done it, a resounding yes.

I build a product and sell it for more than it costs to make.

It didn't take me 7 years like some are suggesting. I didn't solicite feedback from online wannabe entrepreneurs (sorry but I'm gonna say it) who say the odds are against me and to get a job instead, and I certainly built it and they *did* come.

I never thought I'd be running my own business, but circumstances arranged for the opportunity.

Maybe I won't be running it 1 day/week/year/decade from now, but for the past few years it has been great and no regrets.

If you have a good enough idea, you have 6 months of resources, just do it. You're most likely going to regret not trying.

Or spend 6 months getting ripped. Either one is good. But execute your plan.

Yes, it is doable, but if you're like me (similar background in software engineering) you will probably have to stop thinking about it as a software engineering problem and think about it as a 95% business problem. Who are your customers, why would they buy your stuff and not the competition, who even is the competition, how much money does acquiring and keeping a customer cost, etc etc. If you really need inspiration, watch a few episodes of Dragon's Den and pay attention to the questions they are asking.

Hey I am on the same boat and just started two weeks ago and will plan to release an app and try to start making money within 6 months. I believe it is completely doable. Start with the vision. If everything goes right, what would the best possible outcome be in 6 months? Then think about which would have to be true for that possible outcome and then try your best to achieve it. eg. 1. you must be able to build an MVP within a couple of months 2. you must be able to find an initial set of small customers to try out MVP and get them excited (measure active usage or willingness to pay 3. you must be able to improve your product based on feedback or pivot 4. you must be able to find a way to scale by finding more customers without breaking bank. etc

You probably want a customer first using landing pages or something in many niche cases.

Definitely possible, but not very predictable. I wouldn't bet on your first products earnings anything but with enough experience and focus a 6 month time frame is more than enough to spin up a working product and proceed from there.

I haven't spent more than 6 months development time (much less for most) before starting any of the projects that pay for my life right now.

That said i spent years without earning anything relevant, trying to get here.

https://twitter.com/levelsio Did some like 12 projects in 12 months and the focused on the project which got most traction.

Do what everyone else does: get a job and build what you want in your spare time.

There's also a few websites that list people trying to sell their small lifestyle projects. You might want to pick one up and see if it works for you.

Even if you have no actual customers, you at least should have an idea of what problem you're trying to solve. Then search for that problem and see what's out there. If there are companies that are already doing it that's probably a good thing, because that means that someone has validated the market.

With that sort of timeline you'll need to tap into some existing channels for marketing & sales. What does your network look like? Is there an existing vendor ecosystem you have experience with?

Consulting might help with short-term cashflow at the risk of distracting from your product.

It's doable in one sense, but not something I'd bet on.

Most likely no. But good luck

Yes. You could join an existing company and build something for them.

If that's not what you had in mind, then you have to state where the goalposts are.

Maybe your constraints (e.g., doing it alone as a solo engineer) are the true blocker.

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