Swift To-Do List Blog

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So, do you want to build 100 tiny houses, or 1 skyscraper?

I see this all the time.

People love starting new projects, businesses and ideas.

So they start building something and make rapid progress – they build and build, and they end up building a 1 foot tall “house”. But then something happens. They jump to something else. So they end up with a bunch of 1 foot tall houses. Dozens, hundreds of them.

100 tiny houses

(Yep, there are tiny 100 houses in the picture. In reality, it would look even worse, because the houses would probably have no roofs or doors.)

Here’s the deal -

You need to build a skyscraper, not a bunch of broken, unimpressive tiny houses.

If you want significant results, impact and success, you need to keep working on that one thing and keep building upon it for years.

Don’t get me wrong – I am all for the “Lean Startup” philosophy of quick-and-dirty rapid prototypes, minimum viable products, etc.

However, once you find something that has legs, then for crying out loud, as long as you are making progress, keep working on it! For years.

We’ve started our software business 9 years ago from scratch. And I’m SO glad that we’ve never stopped working on it. It’s a nice small skyscraper now. Of course, inside the business, we have built and discarded a few tiny houses (projects with no legs). But once we released Swift To-Do List and our customers loved it, we never stopped working on it and made it our #1 priority.

Today, we have fantastic product, fantastic internal systems, fantastic information resources for our customers and website, and fantastic people on our team. All it took was 9 years of hard work and never-ending improvement.

Here’s my question to you -

Can you stick to something for 30 minutes?

An hour…? A day…? A week…? A month even?

Yes? Can you? Maybe you can.

Well, how about for 5 years?

Have you even considered it?

Instead of building yet another tiny house with no roof and door, build another floor for your new skyscraper.

Focus on your best project or idea, and as long as you are making progress, never stop working on it.

The world will love and reward you for it.

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  • Libor Tinka

    Reminds me of the book “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)” by Seth Godin. Most projects have the this kind of curve: everyday improvements and hype, then the progress virtually stops and here comes “the dip”. Most people quit at this point considering they are not making any success. There is an invisible progress however that will be revealed once one gets through this “valley of death”.

  • Nehemiah

    I disagree with Jiri on this topic.

    There is a HUGE risk being dependent on one product, one idea or one person.
    It is called economic dependence. It may work well until skyscrapers do not require new
    windows, new elevators, new roofs, etc and there is enough money to do it when required.

    The bigger the skyscraper, the more fierce attacks from competition and perhaps
    from internal issues with staff. The key issue in any project is cash flow.

    If we examine history of scientific discoveries, we may find out that many inventors were working concurrently on many ideas or projects, not knowing which one will be successful.

    There is not even one corporation in the Dow Jones listing that was there a 100 years ago. Most of them went bankrupt, even GM and Enron. Why? Lack of money.

    How to we move from being the largest company in the entire world to bankruptcy?
    By building the skyscraper like Babel Tower. Higher, higher and higher.

    • JiriNovotny

      Hi Nehemiah,
      Dependence on one idea or person is not what I am talking about.

      What am I talking about is pushing things toward completion and full fruition. Not giving up to soon. Staying focused until you get results and create something great.

      Yes, along the way, you might discover that you are building the wrong house. And that’s OK. You can move on. But until you give it a proper try, I believe you should stay focused.

      The world doesn’t need more “me too” half-baked products, projects and businesses.