startup: work on something i personally like or work on something that would sell?


I am going to start working on a project, but divided between two project ideas.

The first one is interesting to me personally, and I have been toying with it for some time as an evening hobby, but I don't think it would appeal to many once it is out.

The second idea is not that interesting, but I think I would be able to monetize on it, as it would appeal to a larger audience.

I went the first route few years ago and while I it was super easy to keep myself motivated it was hell of a job to sell it. Now, remembering that experience I am reluctant to repeat it, but I also have misgivings about taking on second path as I know that motivation is the key and without it the project won't last long.

I am sure many have been on a crossroad like this. Any words of wisdom please?

Getting Started Sales Motivation Monetization

asked Apr 5 '13 at 13:16
31 points
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  • You should also mention the time it'd take to build on each idea because time is money. For instance, if it'll take 2 years to build option 1 and 2 months to build option 2 then these kind of numbers can tilt the debate. – Frenchie 9 years ago
  • I think the best is to find something that mixes both things – Flow 9 years ago
  • @frenchie Thanks for the idea. Actually I am fleshing out some project plans before I embark on one and development time / time to market, is one of the metrics I am treating seriously. The problem is the first project is interesting is because it is technologically challenging and therefore would likely need much more time and effort. – Mitten 9 years ago
  • @Mitten: take a look at a different version of the same question: 9 years ago
  • Pursue your passion and talk to customers. If you pay attention to the feedback you get your business will eventually evolve into something that makes money and you love doing. – Rjgonzo 9 years ago

7 Answers


In order to have a successful business, you would need to have all three:

  • Passion about your project
  • Market needs your solution
  • Competency to execute.

If you have all three, you have a much higher chance of success. Otherwise, failure is close. Good luck!

answered Apr 5 '13 at 20:20
Samer Bechara
251 points
  • I feel like we could condense these needs down into one item: Customers. – Io Samurai 9 years ago
  • Nope. If you have customers but aren't passionate about what you're doing, you'll have a lousy business. – Samer Bechara 9 years ago


Think about the end goal to keep you motivated. For example, if you think the second option will bring in $$$, what will you do with that? Think about how that'll feel and it should spur you on.

I'm currently taking time out of my usual consultancy gigs to pursue something that I find fascinating (a way of allowing anyone to build complex business applications, without developers, etc). Ultimately, it should sell well, as it adds so much value with no effort, but a lot of people think it is "impossible", so it'll be hard to sell into some old-fashioned big companies.

The point is that if you can afford to take time out to create something of value to others, then you should. That is what being an entrepreneur is all about - identifying an opportunity and going for it.

answered Apr 5 '13 at 16:26
Steve Jones
3,239 points


Thinking about this logically... unless you're going somewhere, I'd work on both consecutively.

  1. Develop the idea that makes you money.
  2. Develop the idea you enjoy using the money you just made.

If you feel you have the money to make the idea you enjoy, without significant financial risk to yourself, then by all means do so. I however would do the above.

answered Apr 6 '13 at 02:27
Random Us1r
123 points


Initial interest is temporary. There are plenty of interesting aspects that will engage you throughout the process. While liking your own idea is important, you will still be intellectually stimulated even if you go with the "less interesting" idea. Success will bring plenty of interesting aspects. Failure will not. If you're still not sure, I would recommend getting a business mentor who can help you figure out where to concentrate your attention. This article has some good information on a new non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs: Best of luck!

answered Apr 9 '13 at 23:38
Margaret Mo
11 points


The answer could be neither.

  • Personally, I'd be unwilling to bet my financial security on a product that won't sell.
  • And I'd be just as unwilling to bet my sanity on a project that doesn't interest me.

Is it time to go back to the drawing board and come up with something else, something that is both interesting to you and the market?

answered Apr 9 '13 at 23:44
111 points


I think it would be mistake to assume that anyone would want either one of your product/service. Do you know who exactly is your customer segment? Does it solve a real problem or need for them? How much are they willing to pay? How big is the market? All of this will vary on wether you are selling toilet paper to hundreds of millions or a Lamborghini to a few one percenters. I think you have plenty of validation to do before you could say which one will sell. Who knows? You might even find out that neither one is a viable business.

I am not trying to be pessimistic, but my point is that before you focus all of your time and energy into building one of your ideas, spend sometime talking to your customers and validating your business ideas.

Some great resources to learn how to validate your business idea:

If you do know all of this and are simply trying to figure out which one to validate first then I recommend you go with your passion. I think if any of your ideas won't sell you will find out through validation and will pivot into something else; wether that is a similar product or something entirely different. Following my passion has always worked for me so I encourage it completely. I hate working on stuff I don't like. Pursue your passion and it will take you to great places. However, that doesn't mean do what you like forever even if no one is interested in your product/service. Accept the results of your validation and move forward.

Good luck!

answered Apr 13 '13 at 02:43
157 points


When deciding which venture to pursue ask yourself this question:

Who and where are my customers?

If the answer isn't obvious or even makes you laugh, maybe rethink your plan or do some research into seeing who would actually want your product.

The most important first step for a start-up is to identify your customers, you can make all kinds of legal documents, websites, business cards... etc... but if you don't have customers you won't have any business.

answered Apr 16 '13 at 04:32
Io Samurai
123 points

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