How falling in love with your product can lead to its demise
As a ‘serial entrepreneur’ with four successful exits under my belt, I've learned that one of the most important lessons for any founder is to never fall in love with your product, for love is blind. It may sound counterproductive at first, but hear me out.
When you start a company, it's natural to feel passionate about your product, to believe in its potential and to envision a world where it's widely adopted. But as you pour more time, money, and energy into your product, it's easy to become attached to it, to see it as your baby, and to overlook its flaws and limitations.
I know this because I have made the mistakes, I have lived the reality where I truly believed that my baby was the most beautiful and that everyone else would feel the same. YEO Messaging, in fact started that way, you have to have that passion, conviction and commitment to get an idea off the ground, love it at birth, raise it passionately but be unselfishly aware that the product and company is an independent life and will need to follow its own path, not necessarily yours.
Our passion at YEO was to save consumers from their own frivolity with their privacy, to enable them to control, sensor, erase, anything they had sent, to recover in an unforgiving world where you paid for product by submitting your privacy. However, we quickly found that most consumers had already passed the point of no return. The company needed to pivot, to focus on business use where legislation forced the adoption of privacy conscious product. This was the point where the juxtaposition between a founders love for their idea and the market’s demand for what it needed to be, arose. Had we been in love with our idea we would have continued to focus on consumer, however through experience we let demand and market requirement guide us. Many founders have blindly chased their dream and their product and companies no longer exist.
Founders are often driven individuals. Some are artists some more cerebral. The former create amazingly desirable products but they soon go out of fashion and die; the latter focus on market requirements or as I like to put it, pain points, that solve issues. These products become a part of our everyday life and last decades.
So, how can you avoid falling in love with your product? Here are a few tips:
1. Stay grounded in reality: As a founder, it's easy to get carried away with your own vision and ignore feedback from customers or experts. But it's important to stay realistic about your product's strengths and weaknesses, and to seek out honest feedback from trusted sources.
2. Prioritise user needs: Your product should always be designed with the user in mind, not your own aspirations or biases. Conduct user testing, surveys, and focus groups to understand what your target audience really wants and needs.
3. Be open to pivoting: If you discover that your original product isn't resonating with customers, don't be afraid to pivot and explore new directions. Sometimes the most successful companies are the ones that started with a different idea than the one they ended up pursuing.
4. Listen to the data: Your product's success should be measured by hard data, not your own personal attachment to it. Use analytics, A/B testing, and other tools to understand how your product is performing and where it can be improved.
In conclusion, falling in love with your product can be a dangerous trap for founders. Don't let your emotions blind you to the reality of what your customers want and need. Stay objective, prioritise user needs, be open to pivoting, and listen to the data. By doing so, you'll be better equipped to build a successful company that stands the test of time.