It Doesn’t Matter Where You Start, Just Start

One of the hardest part of making something is figuring out when and where to start. While initially the project idea you have might sound exciting, if you spend too much time thinking about every single detail it will involve, you can quickly get overwhelmed and unexcited.


This happened to me this weekend with a friend. We came up with the idea of building an Instagram for Quotes (post a quote on a really nice looking page and let friends like and comment on the quote). While this may seem straight forward, my friend immediately started talking about how we’ll need to use MongoDB and Map Reduce to figure out the likelihood that two quotes are the same so that there are no duplicate quotes on the Popular / Featured page.

We DON’T EVEN HAVE A  PRODUCT OR USERS YET!!! Duplicate quotes is the least of our problems at this early-stage point of development. Yet, as soon as he started talking about this step of the product, we were both really discouraged. The project just became so big, we didn’t even know where to start.

This made me think of something Corey Haines said in a workshop that I got to attend last week: Instead of making a decision of where to start, just start anywhere and see where it leads you. You might throw away what you’re doing later on, but it’ll give you more information, and will make you feel progress at the time.

In my example, my friend and I were arguing about a feature we didn’t even know we would need. While it’s good to have a general idea of where you’re going with your project, spending too much time on the white board might actually be counter-productive and discouraging.

I’m  a bigger fan of just starting anywhere and taking the baby steps to get me to the big picture while learning about my product and customers along the way.

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  • Did this get in the way with holler.com too? How can you try to avoid it?

    • Yeah, definitely! We were adding way too many features way too early without testing each one individually. Sometimes we spent a whole day arguing about a feature we didn’t even need to put in.

  • I’m a huge fan of this, and can personally attest to being guilty of your scenario too often(in all aspects of intimidating life challenges). I’m in the first month of learning to code(serious career change, no looking back!), and I thought all these things I was reading about ‘just starting’, ‘just code’, ‘just do it’ etc. were just, well, written by people who were really knowledgeable in coding and just didn’t understand my frustration with All The Things.

    Now, I’m starting to see the light. I’m studying Python and HTML5/CSS/Javascript in the meantime, and all I can hear in my head now is the old song ‘put one foot in front of the oooother.’

    It was a mantra I learned a couple of years back while I was shedding 75 lbs., and I had to re-learn it this past month. Good luck with the rest of Dev Bootcamp!