Dan Schoonmaker
Software Engineer
Published on

Allow Your Progress To Compound


It's hard enough to build a successful project, don't continue to sabotage your progress by constantly starting from scratch.

As a technologist at heart, I regularly start side projects just for the sake of playing around with a new technology. Sometimes it's not even intentional. I'll discover a new industry or tool and be intrigued to understand its inner workings. This is how I managed to develop my "Reverse Engineering as a Skill" approach to life and Indie Hacking.


The problem with this approach is that you’re always starting from zero. It also typically results in a large number of half-completed projects because once I gain a basic understanding if the technology, there’s nothing left to motivate me.

I think this is fine to do occasionally, but after years (going on decades! 🤯) of it, you’re left with regrets of all the things you never accomplished.

So what’s the alternative?

Albert Einstein famously said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn't, pays it”. Any successful creator you talk to will agree and tell you that compound personal growth is equally impactful.


In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he points out that if you improve by 1% every day for a year, you will end up 37 times better than you were when you started. Here’s a graph he shared on Twitter to demonstrate how this looks…

Credit: James Clear (Twitter)

If we take this insight and apply it to our product building, it’s clear that you’ll have trouble making any sort of substantial forward progress by constantly starting over.

Instead, we need to develop habits that compound our growth. One great example of this in software development is bootstrap frameworks like Serverless SaaS or DivJoy. These allow you to spin up a fully functional SaaS project in a weekend if you plan it carefully.

This is the approach I took a few months ago when I built one Sunday afternoon. Here’s the Twitter thread I posted along the way…

With this approach, building a portfolio of small bets to increase your opportunity of success is much higher.