Underestimating the unknown

Feb 28th, 2017

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

That quote from Bill Gates has been on my mind the past few days after reading a post quoting it, and never has it been so relatable.

Metorik has a very clear direction going forward. That's comforting, in that a lot of the high-level decision-making is complete. I know what needs to be done and I simply need to do it. It reminds me of building a house. There is the stage before building commences, where a location needs to be chosen, a blueprint gets drawn up, design choices are made. Then the building begins. Sure, there are technical challenges and issues that will often come up during the build, but the uncertainty and planning all happens before.

Over the last couple months as Metorik has launched and found its product/market fit, what needs to be done has become quite clear. In my head (and on paper) I have a list of priorities and a rough idea of how long each of those priorities will take to go from idea to reality. But that list is long, really long. And when faced with a list of priorities and limited time, it's easy to overestimate what can be done and end up discouraged when the impossible remains impossible.

paper paper

I don't like to plan years ahead. A year is a long time. Even the seed for Metorik itself was only planted just over 6 months ago. So to me a more fitting quote seems to be:

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one month and underestimate what they can do in ten months.”

And as I've faced the idea that I'm overestimating what I can do in the next month, I'm trying to remember what I have done in the past six. I remember making that rough plan when I first started:

  • A couple months to build a beta.

  • A month to work with beta testers and refine the product.

  • Launch and then get the first customers.

  • Build some of the bigger features that weren't needed to launch.

  • Get enough MRR (monthly recurring revenue) that it can support us.

That was really all it was. It was ambitious, it was unrealistic, but it was also the only way. If by last month (January) Metorik was still in beta or just getting launched, it might have been too late. Of course I wouldn't have given up, but I would have probably begain to consider taking on some freelance work or budgeting even further.

But it's Febuary now and Metorik has around 50 amazing paying customers. The revenue is enough to support us. It's not quite my previous salary but that's irrelevant at this point. I no longer work for an individual company but 50+ individual customers (and their teams) and that number keeps growing every week.

finger on button finger on button

I write this now so that I remember later. So that in a few months I don't underestimate what can be done but do remember what has been done already; to be grateful that there's been more good than bad. And so that you, who may be just getting started or may already be far ahead know that you aren't alone in estimating the unknown.

Now that I think of it, perhaps an even more fitting quote may be:

"Most people overestimate what they can do and underestimate what they have done".

I think that's more my tempo.

- Bryce