2 min read

Not Working Enough on "The Big Product"

Not Working Enough on "The Big Product"
Photo by Per Lööv / Unsplash

The summer after college, my girlfriend (now wife) and I worked as servers at a fine dining restaurant. We had a blast living the restaurant life that summer, every shift ending with pockets full of cash and late nights at the bar. The money was great. The feeling of conquering the absolute chaos of restaurant shifts over and over was even better. We grew properly snobby about food and wine, and quickly began to see how people could do this as their primary job.

One night after an ungodly amount of post-shift beers, one of the "lifer" employees at the restaurant gave us this advice: "Get out while you can." They were trying to tell us that the money is good, you're really good at this, and you're having a lot of fun, but do something else with your life, for God's sake.

Kinda reminds me of consulting. The money is good, the buzz of constant output is great, but I know it can't be the end game.

The end goal HAS to be a product. Something repeatable, scalable, and capable of growing larger than you could possibly imagine.

Further, the product should be something big. Right? "It's hard to build a big business out of small deals", they say. It's too much work to scrap for small deals, and, they almost always require the MOST effort as well. If you're going to do the work, you may as well add a few zeros to the sale.

I have to remind myself of this stuff all the time. A lot of the product ideas I've had recently are simply thinking too small. Small thinking isn't exciting anyway, so the motivational buoyancy simply doesn't show up for small ideas. No wonder.

I'm looking in the wrong places, I'm not aiming high enough.

Big deals mean thinking about industries with the money to support them: Real Estate, Big Tech, Infrastructure, Transportation, etc. If the industry you're looking in is in decline and cutting expenses, it may be time to look elsewhere.

So here's what I'm doing from now on: I'm setting aside time every week to work on big product ideas for big industries that can support them, and I'm not settling for less.

Small ideas and the "comfort" of consulting can easily work against big thinking and big ideas. Just like my friends at the restaurant decades ago, I need to keep my eyes up and ahead. Onward!