Project Development Tips for Startups

Go slowly, be careful, plan ahead, eat your own dog food, and don’t try to build Rome in a day.

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Take your time

If you’re building your own project, you probably don’t have a deadline. Take time and do things properly. Never cut corners, and never do things the easy way when there’s a choice between the easy way, and the right way. You will pay for short-sighted decisions later.

Don’t waste money

If you have venture funding, don’t waste it — aim to make your runway as long as possible. If you don’t have longer-term plans for the project you’re building, you need to re-consider what you’re doing. While it’s exciting to bet the farm on a single idea, if it’s a good idea it’s going to get copied — so you need to start out with continual development in mind — and that requires a long runway.

Don’t rely on Agile

Many people think of Agile development as “figuring it out as we go” — this is a colossal mistake. If you don’t have a bigger picture in mind when you start, you end up paying enormously in code tax — turning the code-base inside out to allow further extension or expansion later on. If you have some idea where you’re headed at the start, pay some of the code tax up-front. Build the end-points, objects, and structures for future functionality at the start. Think of it as sketching out a map of the future.

Eat your own dog food

Perhaps one of the most repeated mistakes — where first-party interfaces use a private API, and third-party interfaces use an entirely different public API. Granted, the first-party interface might have more capabilities — so implement simple permissions to handle it. Why create spaghetti code, historical dependency hell, and mistrust from consumers when you can have one elegant framework.

Don’t try to build Rome in a day

Don’t load your project with a hundred features that work fairly well — build core features that work really well. You’re going to fight hard to attract consumers of your product or service — the last thing you want to do is take little-used features away from them. Sure, you can dress up deprecation as a precursor to new features, but it will erode trust, and users tend to use products in entirely unpredictable ways — there will be a subset of users actively using the thing you want to remove or change, and it will be a deal-breaker for them.

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Software and web developer, husband, father, cat wrangler, writer, runner, coffee drinker, retro video games player. Pizza solves everything.

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