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What if someone beats me to it?

I recently started working with an entrepreneur who is in the prototyping phase of growing her business. She is smart; she is confident, and she has a lot of ideas for what she can offer to her customers. She has done everything by the (Design Thinking) book; showed wireframes, mockups, sketches to friends, participated when they have used it, adjusted the solution, gotten great feedback, as well as several thumbs-up.

She has even already some traction among users who are not “friends and family”. They all really like her solution – many of them have suggested new and re-designed features. She is responsive to what people are suggesting and now she is starting to get worried; “I am getting this great user feedback with suggestions for additional features. They all make sense! What about if any of my competitors add any of these features before me? I need to hurry!”.


Do not add any features!

This is not a “once in a lifetime” conversation I have with “my” lovely entrepreneurs! It is more a theme that comes up when a little bit of user traction is gained. I stand my ground during these conversations and from time to time probably talk a little bit too loud when I tell them: Do not add any features – even if your users have shared ideas, even if you love adding features and have the budget and skills to do it!!!


Make sure to kill pain

Here are my main reasons: The (existing and proposed) features might be wrong for the customers! It may be that the features that you, your friends, users, all of them with good intentions, suggest you add to your solution are wrong considering the other two pillars of a business opportunity, i.e., the pain(s) and customers.

Every feature you add should be added for the sole and only purpose of killing the pain(s) for your (potential) customers. Your reply could then very well be to point to the fact that you have users, who are both using and suggesting. I have a comeback even for that: “Great that you have users! But none of them are paying for the features, i.e., none of them are customers so you still don’t know if anyone is prepared to pay for having the pain killed by what you are offering. What you might have are features looking for customers, not customers looking for a bundle of features that will kill the pain they have! That is, you don’t have a viable solution at all and the simple reason such a solution hasn’t been launched yet is that others have tested it and failed or decided to not offer it anymore (without you knowing).


Take time and spend it with potential customers

So how do you know that the above doesn´t apply to you? Easy, because you have spent enough time observing and interacting with potential customers so you know that those features are what they will pay for. To know this is of course easier to grasp in theory than to do in practice but I have big trust in that entrepreneurs can figure it out – if you really take the time and dare to spend it with potential customers. You have passion, knowledge, and experience so that you can trust your gut.

Entrepreneurs want to do (and they should!) but time is scarce, and you need to know that when you take action and add a feature you are doing it for the reason of killing the pain of your customers – nothing more, nothing less.

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