One my favorite apps, Editorially, is closing down. Editorially was a beautiful tool that made it possible to write and edit documents, compare versions, add comments, and best of all, work with others easily. Unfortunately, the Editorially team wasn't able to build a sustainable business model in a world where Google Docs is an entrenched, often free, alternative.
It's always sad when something you love and rely on closes shop. It can also be discouraging. "If a talented team like that can build a helpful product that people love and still fail, what chance does my app, game, service, product, book or project have?
We need a broader definition of success. Brian Eno once said that the first Velvet Underground album only sold 30,000 copies when it was released, but "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band." Inspiration is invaluable and immeasurable.
The work that the Editorially team poured into the product was not wasted. Not only did the tool enable better writing, but the tool and the team served as an example of craft and quality. That example will fuel future companies and thoughtful apps that respect the people who use them. We need more examples like that, and more people willing to go out on a limb.
What you're working on may not last or be embraced by millions. There's always the chance it will flicker and fade. That doesn't mean it's not worth the effort, creativity, and heart you're investing in it. You're uniquely equipped to push the boundaries of your craft.
People are watching, too. Friends, neighbors, and even children are observing, often quietly, and learning from your example. Because of you, creating something new is no longer intimidating, strange or out of the question. It's simply another perfectly reasonable option.
The lesson of possibility is long remembered.