Have you ever had an idea, but you were too nervous to make it because you didn’t want it to turn out like crap.
Or you didn’t want it to end up not working at all. Well in the 7th Episode of the BudDIY podcast I am going to walk through 5 things you can do to validate your ideas.
These should hopefully help you in decision making on whether to do a project or not. It is especially beneficial to make sure you don’t make HUGE mistakes that can’t be fixed later on larger projects.
If you would prefer to watch it:
Hello and welcome to the seventh episode of the Buddy podcast. So we’re going to talk about five ways to be able to determine and validate any ideas for projects that you might have. But first, if you’re listening on the website, feel free to subscribe in any podcasting application. Or if you’re listening on YouTube, please feel free to ask. Go ahead and subscribe and hit that notification bell, so you know when new episodes are released. Finally, feel free to hit the website and go ahead and leave comments, criticisms, questions, whatever you want on the website. And don’t forget to sign up for the email newsletter to be notified when new episodes and other stuff I have done are released.
So with that, let’s go ahead and jump into our episode where we’re going to talk about our five ways to validate your project ideas. So I guess one of the questions is, why would you want to even do this? Well, sometimes you just have a project that you aren’t sure how you’re going to do, what you want to do or you have an idea and you’re like, I don’t know if it’s a good idea or if it’ll even work and you really want to try to figure out what to do in that case.
One way to approach it is, if it’s just going to take you a day to do the project, just probably go ahead and do it and see what happens, see how it results. But sometimes, you have bigger projects like this, in my office here. This is a shed that I converted into an office space and it was a large project and there was a lot of little bitty steps along the way. It’s just a lot of little bitty projects in there and there were things that I had to do to experiment with to make sure that everything was going to work out right. Took a lot of planning. Then there is another project that I have that I’ll get into in a little bit, and just sometimes you don’t know if it’s going to be a good project or not or if you even have a good idea. So if you can take a little bit of time in the front end and validate your idea in some way, then you can save yourself a lot of heartache and effort later and actually doing the project.
So with that, let’s go ahead and jump into our first thing that you can do to validate your idea and that is to research it. Generally I’ve found most ideas that I have, I would say 99%, somebody else has thought of the idea already and I’m just rediscovering it. And if I’ll start researching it, I can find out whether it’s a good idea or not. I can find out what other people have done, if they failed that, if it just didn’t turn out to work as well as they thought it might. Or I can find the things that they did wrong and I can tweak those so that what I’m doing works out better. It’s a good idea just to open up Google and start searching.
One of the problems that you can run into is using bad keywords and not being able to find the right thing that you’re doing because you’re like, Oh, I want to do X, Y and Z thing, but I can’t think of the word that relates to it in order to find it. I know for me, this isn’t coming from a project planning perspective, but from being able to search for something, like doing tree and plant identification, I have no idea what to Google on those and so I’m terrible at it.
So sometimes your just ability to search for stuff is off and you’re just not going to be to find much information even though there might be a community dedicated solely to your idea, but don’t be discouraged. There’s another thing that you can do and that’s planning. You can go deep into planning and really try to plan out the entire process and every step of everything that you might want to do, so that you can get a better understanding of what it takes to accomplish your goal.
I know for programming projects that I’ve done, this has saved me from actually starting projects because it’s like, okay, I start right out. What is the idea? What is the one sentence that I want this to do? What goal am I trying to accomplish? Okay, now what are all the steps that it takes to accomplish this thing? Okay, now what are the steps that it takes to accomplish those things? And sometimes, I’ll get into a project and I’m going to be spending weeks on it, in order to get it to actually do what I want it to do. And it turns out, it’s like, while it’s a cool idea, it’s just not worth the effort at all just because it’s going to take so much time and effort to get it done and I’d rather go work on something else.
Whereas the initial idea that I had before I started planning and I’m like, Oh, I could do that in a couple of days. It’d be awesome. But once I start planning it and really trying to figure out each step, it’s just going to take forever. Now don’t let that discourage you from doing a project that you might want to do, but just to let you know, if it’s something that you really don’t want to do, doing a detailed plan can save you time by you not doing the project because you don’t think it was worth the effort after all.
Because let’s face it, we have a lot of ideas sometimes and not all of them are good and if we aren’t passionate about the project that we’re going to do, then let’s not spend our time doing that. However, I will add a caveat. Sometimes there’s a really big project and the planning might discourage us even though it’s a really good project to do. So kind of balance it a little bit. But overall though, I think planning things out pre beforehand is a great way to determine whether you would do a project or not.
The next thing you do if you’re building something is to model it out in 3D modeling programs, such as SketchUp or Fusion 360. This is a great way to kind of get your ideas out there and kind of start getting it into some sort of three dimensional space that you can start doing measurements on. You can spin around it. You can look inside, outside, all that kind of stuff and get you to kind of build it in a sense before you actually build it. You’re just building it technically.
The other good side to that, is if you get it along far enough you can just start taking measurements and essentially have a cut list of everything that you need to do. It can also help you to determine whether it was a good idea or whether it will look very good. I know there’s been a couple of projects that it’s like, Oh, this would be amazing. And I start modeling it out and I’m like, that’s a terrible idea buddy. You should not do that because it looks terrible. So yeah, so there’s that. I mean … That’s another way.
In a sense, some of what I’ve told you so far, is really let’s figure out what projects not to do because we have a lot of ideas. So keep that in mind. Sometimes these things that you can do to validate your ideas are very much to make sure that you don’t do a project that you shouldn’t do. But definitely check out SketchUp and Fusion 360, they’re both free. I would say SketchUp has a little bit of an easier learning curve, but Fusion 360 has several really cool features that are probably worth learning.
One of them, particularly as you can take two joints and like mesh them together and you can set it up so that they move in unison. And so as an example, in a course that I’m taking, you’re creating a TV tray. Well, that TV tray is, you move one of the bars, another part of piece of wood kind of folds out and you have a little bar that runs through a slot. Well you can actually connect all those joints and say, Hey, this is going to move this way and this is going to move this way. And so whenever I move it, I see what happens. And you could actually figure out how everything is going to move and you’re going to make sure that something is not going to break physics, trying to get your idea to actually work.
And then the other side to Fusion 360 is, they have an offline version that works. It’s not as good as a native offline. They’ve kind of made a web application that kind of works offline as well, if it detects you don’t have an internet connection. With my crappy internet, that’s something that I need. On the other hand, SketchUp is free. Oh and Fusion 360 it has a little bit of more of a steep learning curve than SketchUp.
SketchUp though is free, but it has an online version. You can go to version 2017 and you can download an offline copy, but you have to realize that that’s not supported anymore and you have to use the online web based version for new updates or you can pay the $600 a year to get a downloadable version to be able to use offline, which is not necessarily something everybody can do. I know that for me, it’s a nonstarter to be able to pay the $600 right now because I don’t make any income off any of the DIY stuff that I do, at least not yet, so it’s just not worth the money. However, the online version does work the same as the offline version. You just have to have a constant internet connection with reasonable speeds and that’s not something I have available to me where I am.
Now, if you use SketchUp, the really nice thing about it again is, the really low learning curve. I was able to figure out SketchUp in about three hours watching YouTube videos and then I was able to model my shed that I bought. I went out and got all the measurements and just after watching several YouTube videos, I got it all modeled out. I got every board modeled out with the proper widths and everything, so that I could start planning where I wanted to put what. By the time I got to the end of modeling out the shed, I had a pretty good understanding of how to use SketchUp and things that I could do with it. So again, it’s super simple and user friendly, but there are some limiting factors.
Same thing with Fusion 360, there’s some really good features but it has a little bit of a steeper learning curve but not necessarily too bad. And again, I mean modeling things out kind of gets you a little bit of … It’s not a physical thing in the world, but it gets you really close to that without having to go build it and if it’s raining or it’s really crappy outside, it gives you something to do and be, “Productive.” Quote, unquote.
I really recommend learning a three D modeling software for some of your projects. The fourth thing that I recommend is actually build it in a prototype manner or some kind of smaller crappier version of it or something that simulates it in a sense. One of those, something I saw a guy on Instagram do is, he was trying to figure out, Oh, does this actually work? And so he took a bunch of little pieces of wood, cut him down to the proper size and tried to get all the proper angles to make sure that it would have some structural integrity that it needed for this particular table. And once he proved out that the idea worked after about an hour, hour and a half of work, he’s like, yeah, that idea will actually work and it’ll hold everything that I need to hold. And so, I’m going to go off and build the project. That was a really cool prototyping thing that you could do.
Something that I’m actually doing in my shop is that I want to turn like a corner of it, that’s 20 by 20 into a conditioned space for doing woodworking. Well, I don’t know if that’s a good spot to have it. I don’t know if 20 by 20 is the right size. And in all honesty, up until about a couple of weeks ago, I was just like, I’m going to have to build it and we’ll figure that out in the end, if that was a good idea after all.
Well, I had some extra boards recently and that I wasn’t going to use. They weren’t the best two by fours or I guess two by two, four by twelves. And I was like, you know what? I can create a fake wall or I guess it’s technically a real wall. I can create a real wall, but it won’t be a permanent wall and I can put some of this foam insulation that I have and I can simulate the two of the walls of this thing and I can start arranging stuff to see if it’s actually, everything would actually work out. And so, I’ve actually started that process. I have one wall up and I have things roughly arranged.
And then my next step is to get another wall up. Even though it’s not going to be 20 feet out, it’s going to be 12 foot out. It starts giving me an idea of where the boundaries are actually going to be, so I can start doing things accordingly and I can start moving the stuff out of the area and into the rest of the shop that I need to do, so that I make sure I actually have all of the space. I’m going there with the proper and the right idea of what’s where. And so, it’s a good way to just get something there. It looks, not great, but it’s going to work. I mean, I think it’s going to give me the idea, it’s going to give me some real world experience to see if the 20 by 20 shop, the way that I’m thinking it is going to work.
I did model it out a little bit in a SketchUp and technically it should work. I mean, there’s lots of people online and YouTube that have 20 by 20 shops, but there’s sometimes, there’s just something about testing it out in the real world that kind of gives you that extra flair of yeah, this is going to work. That’s another way. Just go find some scraps that you have laying around, that you might or might not ever use and build something with it and see if the concept or the idea that is going to work. It’s not going to be your final version, but it’s going to be something to prove the idea.
And then finally, just take your idea and discuss it with other people. People all the time, love discussing projects and either A, poking holes or finding all the cool ways to do what you’re thinking about doing. I know I enjoy talking about projects and other ideas that other people have and A, finding the holes in a nice way, so that they can think those things through. And finding the extra cool things that they can add on once they’re done with it, that they may not have thought about. I mean, it’s just a fun thing to do. It’s a fun mental exercise.
And sometimes by doing that, I know I’ve talked to my wife about a few things and as I’m going through and explaining things to her, I’m like, that’s a terrible idea and we’re not going to do that. And she gives me that really, mm-hmm, I wasn’t going to say anything kind of look, to me and it’s kind of funny and cute. But anyway, go talk to other people, talk to your spouse, talk to your friends, talk to family. Just talk to other … Go onto a forum online or a chat room and just talk to other people. Just kind of get the idea out there, get it flowing and see what other people say and get their feedback.
Sometimes you can work through issues without ever having to actually do anything and work out what needs to be done or how it needs to be done or again, that you don’t need to do it. In the software world, we even have what we call the Rubber Duck method, where if we’re having a problem programming, we’ll talk to Rubber Duck. Not literally, it used to be literal for a joke, but basically we just act like somebody there and we start talking out loud, telling them all of our ideas. And usually we work out the thing that we’re having, because when you have to verbalize what your idea is, it forces you to think about it more.
Whereas, if you’re just thinking about it in your head, you’re not organizing your thoughts because you can understand your thoughts faster than what somebody else can. So you’re not organizing it as well. So anyways, that’s my last fifth suggestion, is just talk it out with people and discuss it and don’t worry about if somebody might steal your idea because ideas are everywhere. Rarely do people execute on other people’s ideas and so don’t really worry about that. I used to try to protect them and then now I’m getting to the point, I have so many ideas, I’m telling everybody, hoping somebody will take one of my ideas and run with it and I have yet to have anyone actually do that. So definitely share your ideas with people and get feedback.
So with that, I want to move on to the final segment and it’s going to be real quick and that’s going to be a failure that I’ve had. And that’s actually something that happened yesterday to me. I went out yesterday with my dad and we were clearing some area on my grandparents’ land. They kind of wanted to reclaim it and they own kind of a cattle farm and they kind of stopped doing it 40 years ago. And so, some of the brush and trees are sort of reclaiming stuff and we were just doing a lot of cleanup and I realized, there are some really interesting things that nature have done with this crowd and the fence line that we have, that we were clearing out. And then it was just full of crap as well, brush everywhere and it would have been a really cool time-lapse to have as well.
And so, I was like, it’d be really cool to do that, but I didn’t have any of my camera equipment. So my failure was, I didn’t really think ahead for the day of doing work, of what could be done as kind of a cool visualization. Plus, my grandma is out of town for a little bit and she won’t be able to see it till she gets back. And it would have been cool to send her pictures and time lapses of the work getting done. So it’s kind of a failure to plan ahead. And then also, in that same vein yesterday, I got my new truck stuck in a little bitty mud patch and it was just like, I mean it needs new tires and I just happened to get it stuck in the wrong spot. But I didn’t have my toe strap with me for someone that came along to help tow me out and they had to drive back to their house to pickup a chain to be able to yank me out five feet.
And so, but if I had put my toe strap that I normally have in a vehicle in there, I would’ve been able to do that. So again, it was me not planning ahead in the area that I knew I was going to be. And just after it had snowed and everything was melting and making muddy, what can I say? I just didn’t think it through and I need to think things through more. That is a failure that I’ve had. So definitely think things through for the day that you’re doing it, doing stuff and maybe you won’t run into some of the situations that I have.
So with that, I thank you for your time. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and please join us for our next episode, episode eight. Feel free to visit the website and leave a comment on this blog post. I thank you for your time and have a great day.