When to move on?

Here’s one I’ve been wondering about since I heard Rob Walling mention he tends to move on to new projects ever few years at MicroConf Europe. At the same conference Giacomo Guilizzoni (Peldi) mentioned he’s very happy with Balsamiq and is fine with that being ‘his thing’.

This is obviously not something where you can apply a formula and get an answer, so I’m curious about people’s experiences. I suppose the ideal thing is to have everything so set up and smoothly running that you can just set a business aside and work on the next thing. At this stage with my own project, though, that seems kind of utopian.

Sounds like a pretty personal choice.

I should change my toothbrush every 3 months but I find its still useful and working for me even a year later. :wink:

This is pretty much entirely dependent on the kind of businesses you build. Rob tends to build things that are low maintenance or mostly automated. So he can move on pretty easy. I know he’s sold a few, others just mostly run themselves.

I suspect he’ll have a difference experience with Drip if it does well. But then, maybe he’s just good at building businesses which run on auto-pilot in a way that I’m not!

I think it probably depends a lot on the product and also the person or people building it.

We always say that with Perch there is no exit plan. This is just what we do. However both Drew and I are the sort of people who enjoy working on that one thing long-term - in fact that was one of the frustrations of building things for other people. We hated building something, handing it over and watching it be destroyed or neglected! Also with a product like Perch there is always something new to be looking at within the product itself, there is a fairly wide spread of tasks and ideas to follow up on.

Some people really thrive on launching new things and being able to move on. If a person is like that then I guess they would be better placed to look for product ideas that can be “done” more quickly, to a point at which they either run themselves or could be run by another person or even sold.

This is more of a suggestion/idea and very much “do as I say, not as I do”… but if you’re in products, I would suggest tracking your sales curve and watch for when it peaks. If you look at the sales curve for the iPod, it’s a bit like the curve on the cover of Crossing The Chasm:

(from http://excapite.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/hello-isnt-it-time-for-upgrade.html)

Notice that the iPhone was launched just as the iPod was peaking. I’ve seen similar curves in sales of other products too - possibly my own :wink: If I had my time over I’d release a new product / product category just as my sales were peaking, cannibalize my own business and put the previous product in maintenance mode. You can try to fight through to increase sales (“if I just work harder…”) but if the market is dying, you’re only wasting your efforts. Don’t go making the greatest Commodore 64 game ever just as Wolfenstein 3D & Doom take off!

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I’m an engineering type, so I like to stick around for a few years & see the result of my technical decisions (good and bad). But with my previous product (a desktop app), after 5 years or so it seemed to me the future was the web. I didn’t enjoy solving problems on the desktop anymore - so, time for a re-boot into a new technology set & new product.

I don’t think I could leave a project of mine on autopilot. I would want to devote time to making it more awesome. If it was just a cash-cow, I would sell that cash cow & go build something interesting.