Side Project Schedule Aide

Side Project Schedule Aid

Portrait of the maker

Tony Price


Mid level
hours to build

Scratch your own itch by building with no-code

What is it:

Side Project Schedule Aide helps you plan your time when juggling multiple projects.

What did I learn:

1. No-code tool feature: How does this project work? Tony uses Airtable form as a front end that takes in the information from the user. For this project the purpose is to help plan out your time juggling the different projects you have going. Tony takes in a few inputs like work days, work hours, and weekly deadlines. Once a user completes the form, Tony has set up formulas in his Airtable base to then take those inputs to create a schedule for the user of which projects should be worked on which day. This creates a schedule outline. The great thing about Airtable is that you can put all your business logic in Airtable and then when the data is added to a new row it auto computes.

From there the next step is using Integromat to wait for any new rows added to Airtable base. When these new rows get added to an Airtable base then the Integromat action triggers, takes that information and puts into an email format. Then Tony sends this information through MailerLite.

2. Building in the open: Tony shared his project publicly just by tweeting out what he built:

This is the exact step I used when building Get Stackd initially. But this was not the first step that I took.

1. Build and launch for yourself
2. Launch privately for < 5 people to try who you think might be the target market.

From here you have a few different options of how you want to launch:
3. Tweet about it and open it up for anyone to try ( I recommend this if you do not have a large audience and you are trying to get maximum exposure for feedback)
4. If you have a larger audience then you might want to take an approach of private beta sign up so that you can choose how many people get access and limit the amount of people using it so that you can build fomo and also manage the feedback.
5. Or you can just let it open by tweeting about it.
6. Then as you get feedback for each step iterate on that.

Your goal is to keep the feedback loop tight as can be and then from here I would start building in the open and use that as a marketing for your product. It does not have to be complicated but tweeting out updates, sharing what you learned and milestones.

There are other next steps in this framework that I cover in The Lean Side Project. I also go into a lot more detail as well as give more examples to learn from.

3. Product Strategy: How do you know if you should continue working on something? In my experience I don't think this needs to be that complicated but we can make it that way.

Here is a simple framework that I've used for my projects:

1. Before you first launch a product ask yourself why? Are you building this to solve a problem for yourself and scratch an itch? In my experience this is one of the best ways to get started, because your goal of building anything is taking it from 0 to 1. That's what Tony was doing when he launched this project. And if you are the first person that uses it, you have at least gained value from it without another person using it. And that is okay. You've gained experience now building something.
2. Once you make it, how well does it solve the problem for yourself or are you excited to use it? You'll have a feeling one way or another and from there you can decide based on how much time it took to create this, is there anything that I could do additional to make it more helpful if it does not give value like you originally set out to do. Maybe you don't know yet, so then what is the risk about privately asking people to try your product? Either way, If it does give some value then, share it privately and get feedback. If it does give value, ship it! Don't add another feature just to add it.

Once you do ship it your goal is to measure mainly one thing. It's an experiment to figuring out what is the maximum value you can give just from one feature or thing that your product does. Without having to add a bunch more features on to it. AND then measure that against what type of value to get in return?

This is where through experience launching products you will learn and you'll just have to get feedback to let the market decide for you. This is an experiment and if you treat it as such you'll get a good understanding to continue forward or not.

3. Keep in mind who you are sharing it with. you're not looking for universal yes to value given, because some people have different starting points or perspectives where they may not need the product.

4. Based on their feedback is there anything that gets you excited about continuing to work on it? Is there anything obvious about it that really stands out that you'd like to continue to work on and launch it publicly? It really is about motivation at this stage, because if you don't have a feeling of motivation anything you do towards it won't be your best effort and you'll start to procrastinate. These are red flags that it may be time to try another project.

This is not an incredibly scientific approach. And that's okay. Making products is 50% science and 50% art. There are so many variables and so many motivating levers for creating something. Meaning let's say you just doin't get great feedback. Should you stop?

Well that depends. Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

But as a side project only you can be the best judge of, if this project really interests you and you get a lot from it even if you don't get a a lot of external value in return that is okay. Continue! Because if you are getting a lot out of what you're doing that is worth something. You're still gaining experience and skills that you can use.

And because you can build off of what you're doing as you search for the point of value inflection. That tipping point at which you give enough value that someone activates/tries your thing or pays you money.

I was chatting with a Maker recently about the recent launch of his project and he didn't know where to take it and found himself not motivated to continue to work on it. And so he started working on something else. That is okay.

My guiding principle is this: With The Lean Side Project framework, you choose a central problem or thesis that you want to solve. This way it makes it easier to peel off your project and try something else. You aren't worried about sunk costs into the project that create bias in our decision making that may prevent us from stopping a project and starting something else. The antidote to sunk costs is if you have a north star thesis around a niche problem, itch to scratch etc, you can then will have freedom to start another project that contributes to solving that north start thesis.

Because the audience that you have built around the previous project is tangental and would most likely be interested in your next project. As it may be solving for something around the space that you are already in. More in the book about this...

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