Don’t take too much advice. Most people who have a lot of advice to give—with a few exceptions—generalize whatever they did.Ben Silbermann, founder of Pinterest
Question and Answer session at SXSW
What should you expect from this book? My goal isn’t to prescribe a single approach toward launching the perfect web application. Rather, by taking stock of my experience, I hope you can make your own decisions and make them better. Think of this as less of a how-to and more of a trail guide–when you’re faced with dozens of trails to choose from, a trail guide can help you figure out which one you’ll enjoy the most.
Depending on your background and experience, some topics in this book will seem rudimentary relative to your own experience; that’s just the nature of covering such a broad set of topics. If you reach a chapter and feel that it’s something you’re already intimately knowledgeable about, skip it. Don’t worry. Focus on learning new things–there’s no need to rehash knowledge you already have.
I couldn’t possibly cover every detail: many of these topics justify books of their own. Building your first standalone application and business is like peeling back layers of an onion. You’ll eventually have a good understanding of the big picture, but you’ll be much better off if you can see that big picture before getting started. Without that understanding, it’s like working on a puzzle without knowing the number of pieces, or even seeing a picture of what it’s supposed to be. I can’t teach you every detail, but I can help you discover gaps in your knowledge so you’ll go into this as prepared as you can be.
There will occasionally be advice in here, but I want to emphasize that this is only my personal experience, and it’s all based on my vision for a healthy and sustainable business. It has also been influenced by countless conversations with other founders over the years. Regardless, I can assure you that this book will tell you exactly how I’d go about it if I were to do it all over again. I’m writing this as if I could go back in time and sit down with myself before embarking on the journey. What do I wish I had known? What did I do right, and what did I do wrong?
There are many others who’ve achieved orders of magnitude more success than I have. I don’t have a vault of gold coins to swim through, but I was able to spend each day doing work that I enjoyed and getting paid to do it. That work provided for me during an incredibly difficult phase of my life, and paid off even more when I sold the business. I hope this book helps you achieve even better results by avoiding my mistakes.
Before you set out on this journey of creating, recognize that it will be hard, and there will be really crummy days and few great days. Building a business is about continual incremental improvement, and it will never be enough. There will always be more that you could do. The bad days, on the other hand, come on hard and fast. They’ll knock you around and make you question whether it’s worth it. Put yourself in position for the long run. Successful businesses are built by those who hang on and show up every day.
During those early days, you’re not going to be happy with the results. You’ll only see shortcomings, but that’s to be expected. The initial phase will be painful, and on some days it will be hard to believe in yourself. But you have to. There are no overnight successes. It’s going to take time. Be ready for the long haul, and you’ll do fine.