One common mistake I’ve been seeing on early stage startups is when they let customers drive product development. But don’t get me wrong, what I mean is that they tend to develop a feature or set of features just to be able to close one client.
This is a mistake I also made earlier in my career. When I was running Cloudadmin, I had a clear, well-defined product roadmap, however, every now and then, I used to fell for the trap of building a feature in order to close a new customer. I realized this when I came to a point when the Product was big enough to cater to many types of customers but not great enough to have a perfect fit to at least one vertical. (If you know about sales for startups, you’ll know that you need to start with one niche and move forward to neighboring niches).
“Every feature needs to answer a big why, and just because a customer said it so isn’t good enough.” Tweet this (Can be edited) I have written before about finding a problem before you start working on a specific Product — Just as you would talk to many people to find a problem, you have to do the same to define the feature set for the first iteration and continue to do so to build the entire roadmap.
Defining the Product Roadmap is crucial to a startup success. Every single feature needs to answer a big why, and just because one customer asked it for isn’t good enough. Even though Product Managers find needs by talking to and observing on customers, we need to be able to identify patterns; when it is a common need and when it is just one customer’s whim. Remember, customer’s are not your Product Managers.