Subscribe to ๐Ÿ’Œ Tiny Improvements, my weekly newsletter for product builders. It's a single, tiny idea to help you build better products.

There's no right way to do it

There's no right way to do it

Raise your hand if you've done this before:

You're working on an exciting new feature, new article, or doing anything creative. You're in the zone, and you're feeling good. You're making progress, and you're excited about the outcome.

Then, a thought occurs. Is your approach going to be scalable? Will it be maintainable? Do other people have a better way of doing it? So, you go into research mode, and start scribbling down notes for your new plan of attack.

Hours later, you're still researching. You've read a dozen articles, watched a few videos, and you're more confused than ever. You've found a dozen different ways to do it, and you're not sure which one is the best.

You're spiraling. Next thing you know, you've wasted days thinking about how to do it, and you haven't made any progress.

Choice: Flip it and reverse it

I've been on vacation for the past week, traveling throughout Vietnam with my wife. She had a a two-year stint teaching at an international school in Hanoi, so I've spent lots of time here over the years. It's one of my favorite places in the world. People here are kind and charming, and the food and coffee are incredible.

One of the things that is the most striking about visiting vietnam is that driving is very different here than in the states. Most people ride 150cc motor bikes, and traffic can feel like a bit of a free-for-all at first. There are clear lane markings on most road, but cars and bikes drift between them without warning. Traffic lights here actually count down the seconds until they change, and it's not uncommon to see people leave a stoplight a second or two before it turns green.

There are also very few traffic accidents, from what I've seen. People are very aware of their surroundings, and they're constantly adjusting their speed and direction to avoid collisions.

It can be a bit jarring at first, but it's also a lot of fun. It's a bit like a dance. Everyone is moving in a different direction, but somehow, it all works out.

I've been thinking a lot about this over the past week, and I think there's a lesson here for us as makers. The rules (written & unwritten) that have developed for driving here are the result of a different set of constraints than the ones we have in the states. The roads are narrower, and there are more people. The cars are smaller, and the bikes are faster.

The rules that work here wouldn't work in the states, and vice versa -- but they solve the same problem. More importantly, they solve the problem well, and one isn't better than the other.

My laptop on a table next to an espresso and a glass of water, at a cafe in Hanoi
Was I up at 6:30am to write a newsletter while on vacation? Maybe. But it shipped!

There's no right way to do it

This had me thinking about the way we build products. I've talked to many founders and indiehackers who spend the early days of their product journey researching the "right" way to do things. They spend more time talking about the thing than building it. They talk about the problem to no end, and don't make any progress on the solution.

Friends, here's the thing: just ship something. Ship it. Ship it. Ship it.

Deploy your code, put it in front of real people, and open your mind and your heart to feedback and criticism. You'll learn more in a week of shipping than you will in a month of research.

There's no right way to do it. There are many ways to do it, and if you ship more often, you'll find a path that works for your project. You'll be able to change more rapidly, and you'll be able to adapt to the needs of your customers.

You'll become a better product builder by shipping products, not by reading about how other people build products.

Send me your project

Here's your call to action for the week: I want to know what you're working on, and I'd love to share your work here in Tiny Improvements. Send me what you're working on, and I'll share it with the community. I'll also give you a shoutout on Threads and LinkedIn.

Hit reply on this email, and send me a link to your project. I can't wait to see what you're working on!

Recommendations from my playlist

  • ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Colin & CJ over at Build & Learn have been podcasting about career growth and building things as software engineers. CJ is a teammate of mine at Craftwork, and Colin works in DevRel at Discord - they're two devs who really know their stuff.

  • ๐Ÿ“– I just finished listening to Oversubscribed on Audible. The book's tagline is "How to Get People Lined Up to Do Business with You" - and it gets right to the point. It's a great read for anyone who is building a product or a business, and it's full of proper advice from real-world experience.

What I'm working on

  • ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ In my latest interview for Software Engineering Daily, I talk to Tsavo Knott, the CEO of Pieces for Developers about their product, an automated second brain for devs and engineering teams using some insanely cool multi-modal LLMs. If you've ever had that feeling that you read about something somewhere but now you can't find it, Pieces is looking out for you.
  • ๐Ÿงถ I have been posting quite a bit on Threads (@irreverentmike) lately. These days, the tech community on Threads is feeling a whole lot like the best days of twitter (RIP), and it is really refreshing. If you're active on Threads, hit me with a follow - I'd love to follow you back!

Thanks for reading Tiny Improvements. If you found this helpful, I'd love it if you shared this with a friend. It helps me out a great deal.

Until next time - be excellent to each other!

There's no right way to do it

Building products comes with a sisyphean paradox: The blessing is that there are so many ways to do it. The curse is that there are so many ways to do it.



๐Ÿ’Œ Tiny Improvements: my weekly newsletter sharing one small yet impactful idea for product builders, startup founders, and indiehackers.

It's your cheat code for building products your customers will love. Learn from the CTO of a Y Combinator-backed startup, with past experience at Google, Stripe, and Microsoft.

    Join the other product builders, and start shipping today!