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How many products should you build?
Go all in on one product, or go for many small bets?
Now there’s two schools of thought when it comes to product focus: Go all in on one product, or go for many small bets.
I’m usually not a fan of going all in on one product, especially if you’re just starting off. All too often, those who find the ONE true product on first try is super rare. Your shipping muscles and instincts just aren’t as developed yet. And if there’s some incremental results, it seduces you to keep trying on that one thing. All it takes is a rug pull event, some platform risk, like Twitter API price hike, for the castle to fall into pieces. Over night their MRR goes to zero. It was heartbreaking to watch. There’s no diversity, very little resilience to shock with this approach.
Personally I tend to prefer building a portfolio of small bets, but it’s not without downsides. Observing others who try the same, it sure is a spectacle to witness, fun to watch, but after a while, after like the 10th product or beyond, I don’t even remember what they are building, what they stand for. All the different products starts to blend into one another. Most of the time they continue to struggle with revenue. They’re launching a lot, it feels like progress, but it’s false progress, especially if their aim is to make money and be ramen profitable. If there’s no happy ending, it starts to get poignantly painful to watch.
So I think the reality is somewhere in the middle for indie hackers who succeed at the game:
Launch many small bets serially, one after another not all at once. Timebox your efforts for each. Then focus more on one that has validated potential and continuous growth. Build it out to stable state. Find a reliable distribution channel for customer acquisition. Grow revenue to steady state. Then sell it, or keep it running for stable revenue. Try another small bet(s) again, or pick up one of the previous ones to grow further. Rinse and repeat, while only working on a 2-3 products at any one time.
After a few years trying small bets, it feels like I’m settling on this approach. A happy middle where you’re not over-exposed to risk nor grasping at straws.
Diversified enough in your product portfolio to survive, focused enough to matter.
We all find our own balance points between the 2 ends of that spectrum.
What do you think? What’s your happy middle?
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