Staying In Your Comfort Zone

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For a long time I’ve used new startup ideas as catalysts to learn . I'd spend the first few days creating TODO apps and deployment scripts never really writing any of the business logic that was to be the meat and potatoes of the actual app idea I set out to build. From there I'd spend another few days stumbling through a user registration flow inevitably getting lost somewhere, losing momentum, and back burnering the project.

“Grow or die”. Three simple words that are the battle-cry of startups. If you’re not growing you’re dying, so why would I choose a technology stack that’s not my forte. Crazy right? But I have a nagging suspiscion that many others are following suit. Getting out of my comfort zone as a developer is how I grow as a developer but is it the right choice when tackling a new startup?

##Staying in your Comfort Zone Deciding to use an unfamiliar technology stack is a lot like running an adventure race with a partner in uncharted territory. You may have a map but if you’re using bleeding edge tech that map may be littered with Post-It notes and one offs. The compass you’re using may be a little inaccurate and the sleeping bag you chose might not be rated for the temperatures at night.

Now imagine you had your familiar tools and gadgets and the race was in your home town. You and your partner would be quick to plot a route, maybe even highlighting some shortcuts along the way. Your community would come to your aid offering up tips and maybe even a hot meal here and there. While the analogy may seem a little over the top, staying in your comfort zone allows you to work in an environment in which you thrive, overcoming obstacles with ease rather than getting stuck on problems that you’d normally blow right past.

So Why Do We Do This?

Why do we fall in the new tech trap? I think a lot of times I don’t truly believe in my idea. Learning a new language or technology is the consolation prize for a failed startup. Moving forward I need to have the confidence in my own idea before I can pitch it someone else or give my customers the value they deserve. If you don’t truly believe in your idea then all the more reason to get it front of customers as fast as possible so you can validate it. Then you can either die fast and move on to the next thing or get customer feedback quickly and grow your product.

Iterating and Pivoting

Another reason to stay in you area of expertise is the speed at which you can iterate and/or pivot on your idea. When you’re getting customer feedback, running A/B tests, or fixing bugs having a deep understanding of your tech stack is going to be crucial in closing gaps as quickly as possible.

The Consolation Prize

New shiny things are awesome. OSS and bleeding edge tech is what keeps us moving forward as developers. As your idea is vetted and you gain a customer base there are plenty of places where you can start folding in new stacks, languages, or frameworks that you’re passionate about. Landing pages, static FAQs, or even refactoring existing areas of your site are all great places to start. Before you start your next product think long and hard about whether you’re choosing the right tool for the job.

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