For the last few years, I’ve been participating in Hackathons, a type of event where hackers and designers meet to build a project in a limited amount of time. I’ve seen awesome products get built, but I also witnessed a great deal of failures. These failures were generally not caused by a lack of work or talent in the team. These projects failed because the team aimed too high. Their vision was so big they didn’t know where to start from, resulting in an unclear product solving no problem.
As a first step to any project, ask yourself what is the core element of it. What is the one thing your app needs to do to be useful? Think small. You will have to say no to many features in order to stay focused. As humans, we get motivated when we feel we’re having an impact. Building a product in small steps is incredibly motivating. A small feature that is going to affect people tomorrow is a lot more engaging to work on than one that will be released a year from now. Furthermore, taking small steps is a great way of minimizing the risk of building stuff you don’t need.
This philosophy of taking small realistic steps is not limited to Hackathons or web products. You can apply this to almost any kind of endeavour. Whatever you have in mind right now, think about the first smallest step you could do in order to get closer to your goal. You want to build an international food chain? Why not start that by cooking a meal for your friends? Don’t try to drink the river.