Slopes Diaries #28: Constraints
Slopes Diaries is my ongoing journey to turn my indie app into a more sustainable part of my business. First time reading? Catch up on the journey so far.
What is Slopes? Think Nike+, Runkeeper, Strava, MapMyRun, etc for skiers and snowboarders.
"Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it!" - Joker
Slopes has always been a product of constraints. My version 1.0 was a constraint of shipping a true MVP. After the MVP, the time I spent on Slopes was constrained by my need to earn a living and realistically scale the time I spent on it relative to its income.
I'm very focused with what I want to do in Slopes, and I've constrained myself pretty well in avoiding crazy scope creep. The app has grown and gained new features, sure, but I've avoided a lot of features that just don't feel right for my vision of Slopes (like "social" / leaderboards, resort-based weather info, and more). I've also de-prioritized features (like localization ... really need to get back to that) that would introduce a lot of drag or maintenance. I'm constrained as a one-man shop by my time, and I'm mindful to keep future-Curtis from drowning.
I work well with constraints.
Which is probably why I'm struggling so much right now.
Revenue as a constraint is gone (#FirstWorldProblems) at least at the scale of an indie dev. I'm at the point where I could afford to hire one or two developers (and the growth of Slopes shows no indication of slowing down anytime soon ... 2.5x'ing revenue again this year, for the 4th year in a row). I have an actual marketing budget. Exciting, right? I was chasing this dream for years!
I've been so focused on building Slopes and growing it to this milestone that I never took the time to think past it. Without the constraint of revenue forcing me to be a solo developer I'm left with a tough question: what kind of business do I want to run if the sky is the limit? I can hire people to do more, move faster, be on more platforms, tackle bigger challenges ... if I want. I've been chasing growth, but I don't have to choose to grow any bigger than being a solo developer.
I know some people that have a very clear vision for the kind of company they want to run, and I'm truly envious. Some know they want a 12-person team as a dev shop, while others know that they'll always fly solo -- no way they'd hire someone. Some know they want to be a dev shop with one core product, others want a dev shop with multiple products.
I'm just a guy who was building an app, I didn't have some grand vision for a company. I feel like this is a pretty important thing to have a vision for, and my choice here will have a large impact on me.
(Feel free to write in and share your thoughts and how you figured out the constraints / vision for your business.)