The Uncertainties of Indie Hacker (or starting a business)

Starting a business is full of uncertainties. Especially, if you’re into Indie Hacker.

I have to admit, the main reason I’m into Indie Hacker because I’d love to live on my own terms. Then, follows what other testify that they make $xxxx MRR/ARR (Monthly or Annually Recurring Revenue). These made me decide to make a jump to Indie hacking, or starting my business, specifically internet business.

At first, it was all nice. Until you see there are a lot of people posting about “How I made $xxxxx MRR/ARR in bOoTsTrApPeD business”. I mean, literally a lot. You can see at least once a day if you’re lurking enough to the community. All that happening while I still hardly make my first dollars.

It’s not a bad thing, I know that the intention was to motivate others, report your success, testifying that bootstrapping business is indeed possible, solo business is doable, and so on. I might do that, too, if I were in that position.

The reality is I have not yet reached that position.

After being around for some time, I hope this is not the last conclusion, but internet is cold.

Uncertainty at its best. No one will give their attention to you, especially if you don’t have any value to offer.

If you feel this, me too. And the good in this cold environment is that I learn to not rely myself to people/community. Putting my hope to others, especially on the internet is just the same as putting more pressure and uncertainty.

I don’t say we don’t need community. After all, I came to know great masterminds, those successful indie hackers, all because of the community.

What I say is that my happiness/effort/energy doesn’t depend on the community.

I faced a time when I posted one of my work on a community, and it didn’t get upvotes. Literally. Not even 1.

Deep inside my heart, it’s sad. I see the analytics showing people visit the app I worked on. But isn’t it free to just give upvotes? Why no one give upvote? At least help this app get exposure?

Well, that’s a sad truth. And it’s just useless to even getting to that path. No one will sympathize with you. If possible, they will break you more so they don’t have more competitors.

Sorry, if you disagree with this.

But, there’s a hope. We don’t have to go that route. Dealing with uncertainness is just endless.

Other uncertainty I found was that you will have too many advices. One founder shares how he/she got success with this way. And soon after, you will find other founder shared how he/she achieved with the contrary way.

Telling myself that “there are just multiple ways to reach Rome” didn’t help. It increased uncertainness.

What actually helped me was to just do it. Without thinking much about the consequences. Thinking what I will get and what I will lose is just another way to waste my time.

So, just do it. Instead of sinking and tHiNkInG the pros and cons. It helped decreased my uncertainty level.

I also found uncertainty about the time and cost. Pay attention, every software engineers know if they want to use a tech stack or new stack, they will have a trade off. You will trade a perk and lost something.

The same goes with indie hacking or starting a business. You will need to trade something with what you have.

Either your current savings to pay your bills (especially when you don’t have income), or your time, or your mental health, or your relationship (I experienced it, you may lose friends whom you try to sell hehe). These may actually just make you feel life become so uncertain.

And thinking about this doesn’t even help you get 1 inch ahead. It’s useless.

I just want to let you know, so you don’t have reasons to be disappointed by these. You will have to trade with something you have.

But the good news, you can choose what to trade. And that part is what make Indie hacking or starting a business less painful.

You can trade your useless time with time well spent building your business. You can even know friends who are real friends and just simply “friends”, and so on.

You can even use money wisely while knowing you are running out of cash and trying to earn revenue in short time (I will discuss about this more in another post… if I remember).

So, what now? The future of indie hacking or starting a business is not that beautiful. It’s just cloudy. You go out, but everything is not under your control.

The mistake I take at first is to try taking control of things I cannot/should not take in the first place.

I try to game out posting things on Hacker News. But no, it’s unpredictable (in my perspective, at least. You’re free to disagree with this). I don’t have access to Reddit (except those on Youtube, posting things useless but controversially funny). Tried to grow my Twitter, yet things grow slowly (or things take time, I guess). I even thought this was because my bad timing post this. Well, I cannot say for sure.

These are unpredictable. But the good news, I can control what I should control.

Writing this post is actually one thing I can control. Trying to tweet useful things are one I can control.

Find what you can’t control (and what you can control).

These helped me reduce my uncertainty level.

If you’re working and intrigued to start a business, if you’re jobless trying to get lucky in this business, if you’re already into indie hacking/business, Welcome. Be prepared to lose something (and later gain something). Just hit the button if you have prayed it and got the answer yes. If not prepared, you better find other thing. If you don’t want to pay the price, just keep working with your job that already pays good.

It’s a lot of stress. (At least, this post reflects it hehe). Although the result pays.

The most certain things I can tell in this post is that you can be happy with what you have right now. That’s the most happiness I get. I am able to eat together with my family (despite the sad truth about indie hacking/starting a business). I am able to enjoy every moment trying to sell (or write this content).

The key is to just enjoy and grateful with what you have. That’s what you’ll have permanently. Other than that is just a bonus. If you get successful with your business, that’s a bonus. Able to buy a car, own a property, those are bonuses. But what makes you happy and certain and optimistic already lies in how much you want to be grateful with your life.

At least, that’s what makes indie hacking or starting a business a beauty. To enjoy every second of your life.

What to do next?

2021 is here. But, I don’t put my happiness/hope in 2021. Things will not change that much. Some will go, sad truths will still happen. You may still be in $0 MRR, or no meaningful growth.

But, nevertheless, enjoy 2021. Start to do what you have planned, yet have no time before to execute it. Celebrate the small success (and failures) that come or pass by. Enjoy people who are around you in real life. Because from my experience, there will be less people who will care about you anyway online (if there is, unfortunately, there may be 0 people who will care about you).

Thank people around you and still want to have a chat with you. That’s a gift from God for you. Not everyone has this privilege, you know.

Life is short. You should enjoy every bit of moment.

How about you, Ricardo?

I will keep do what I do. I’m still at looking for my first dollars (I have sold $20 once, so technically, I am looking for other first dollars). I’m still at the phase of building, understanding my audience. I’m still building relationship online. Well, all at the cost of my own time.

I enjoy my life. My job. My family. All the friends I have. They’re my treasures more than ever.

Let’s celebrate 2021, and the uncertainness in it.

If you want to follow me on a journey in 2021 about controversial thoughts, cold showers, skeptical views, you can subscribe here and/or follow me at https://twitter.com/RicardoSawir