Posted by: @spdlm | 18 Jul 11

The Risks of a Start-up 2 – Overcompensation

For the first blog of this series (The Risks of a Start-up), I wrote about “the idea“. Now let’s assume that the idea is perfect and you are ready to flesh everything out or even launch the service/product. In most cases, even the most experienced entrepreneur will have some apprehension at this stage. At various stages of a star-up, you seek opinion and feedback from clients, investors and family & friends. Although these are usually very valuable form of input, let’s consider the traps many entrepreneurs fall into.

did someone say, "bigger wheel pls"?

The Positives

In some ways, this can be the most valuable variety of feedback, but it also depends what is “positive” for you. Positive comments do wonderful things to entrepreneurs. Let’s consider a comment such as “the UI is brilliant”. My advice is not to take this as an encouragement to tweak your UI, aiming for more glory. Let’s take it at a face value and use such comments in your “buzz” page for marketing purposes.

The Negatives

Always read the negatives very carefully, because these are the people you must win over. It is true that there will always be nay sayers and you can not win them all. If these unconvinced patrons left you a message, then this is a golden nugget. In a way, it is your tip-sheet for the next upgrade. What I would like to advise is that, do not listen to every little comment. The point about feedbacks is not to understand the personal preferences of each customer you come across, but a representing comment of your target audience. So, analyse the feedbacks and work out what the common theme is. That is the area you would work on. Chances are, if you totally eliminate the “sore point” the clients are pointing to, the new version is likely to be a dramatically different product. I have seen many products becoming quite boring and “average” as a result of over-compensating for the negative feedbacks.

When are you most likely to be over-compensating?

  • You are looking for more clues from feedbacks than your own creative team
  • You are pivoting every a few weeks
  • You are constantly seeking approval of a single person
  • Your product is becoming undistinguishable from your competitors
So, it is one thing to admit that your assumptions were incorrect and the service/product needs to be tweaked. It is quite another to take each feedback at their full face value and try to satisfy each client. When someone says, “I think your product needs a bigger wheel”, he/she is not saying “go and get the biggest wheel”, unless you are claiming the title of the “biggest wheel”. Instead, the client might be saying, unknowingly, that you need a smaller body to match the existing wheel size.

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