Building in public

I have been fascinated by the idea of building a business in public for quite some time, years, actually. Building in public is about sharing your progress, your successes and failures, while you are building your business. I haven’t put any research into this topic, and (until recently) I haven’t followed anyone who is actually doing it. But for some reason, I really like the concept.

Why build in public?

The two obvious benefits of building in public from a business perspective can be:

  • Attracting and growing an audience. In this sense, building in public is a marketing tool.
  • Getting early feedback. In this sense, building in public is a product development tool.
  • Another benefit that I see is increased motivation because of your public commitment. Once you publicly state your goals, you will be more motivated to stick to them. After all, who wants to publicly admit that they backed down from their own commitment?

Of course, where there is light, there is shadow. The downsides of building in public that immediately come to my mind are:

  • Attracting an audience can also invite copy-cats. Someone might see your early traction when you are not even in the market, and rip off your idea.
  • Negative feedback can be demotivating, any feedback can lead to wrong decisions, and ultimately to an early end of a project.
  • The fear of failing in public and disappointing your audience can be motivating, but it can also create constant pressure to over-work, which could ultimately lead to burn-out.

Is it worth it?

Not having done any research, and not having any experience with building in public, I believe that it is worth a try. Here is why I don’t think that copy-cats and feedback should stop you:

  • I don’t think copy-cats are something that an entrepreneur should be scared of. Yes, it feels bad to have your idea “stolen”, but an idea is not really worth anything. It’s the execution that counts, the business.
  • Feedback is always tricky. You always need to take care, which feedback you use for product development. (We all have read this quote that is attributed to Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have told me, they want faster horses.”)

However, that last one, getting stressed out about disappointing your audience and failing in public, I think that can be tricky. Recently, I have been thinking about building something in public. But now I am wondering if and how I can avoid getting sucked into a negative spiral that turns the positive motivation into pressure and overworking myself.

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