There are many variations of this quote attributed to many different people over time, but for the sake of this post, who said it and when doesn’t matter.
“Learn the rules before you break them.”
I heard this during my graduate program in Creative Writing. There are rules of writing that many people break without even knowing they are rules. Use of italics in books, use of exclamation points, use of adverbs and even quotations—these are all unwritten (and sometimes written rules) for writers that cover varying specificities. But here’s the cool thing:
Once you know those rules, you also know when, why, and how to break them.
The same applies to business. Especially around the concept of validation. It is all but proven that you should not go out and build something without validating it. What does validation look like? It looks like pre-sales, newsletter signups, pre-purchases, an audience. It looks like a bunch of things, but it does not look like a developer building a product before going out and talking to people.
But guess what? That’s sort of what I’m doing with Perligo.
I have built apps through proper validation processes. I have conducted interviews that would satisfy The Mom Test. I have validated in a way that Rob Walling would be proud. But I’ve also built products from sheer passion.
The best representation of this is Graphite Docs. That was not a validated product before I built it. I built it because I wanted to and I wanted it to exist. And sometimes that’s enough. Graphite was enough. It let me quit my day job. It made me a developer.
And now, I’m following a similar path.
I know what my experience was in my master’s program. I know what my experience was before that program. Finding groups that could provide good, reliable feedback on my written work was hard. So, I’m building Perligo for that kid who needed a community, for the adult who found his community but needed better tools, and for every other writer out there who wants to get better and wants a group around them to help.
I’ve learned the rules of building a SaaS business, and in this case, I’m choosing to break them.
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