Change is essential to any successful business. Knowing how and when to pivot is crucial, especially for emerging startups. However, when you are putting forth a minimum viable product (MVP) and getting your first round of feedback from early adopters it can be difficult to maintain your vision and try to accommodate this small group of users who are trying out your product. Especially if your end vision is something that doesn’t even exist in their world yet.
There are many paths that can lead to the same destination. Here are some tips to help you find the right path and change course when necessary:
1. Have a Plan and Timeline
What are the values your company will hold onto regardless of timeframe and circumstances? In order to stay true to your vision for your startup you need to ensure your able to clearly communicate your vision to everyone involved, especially yourself. Writing down your vision and the steps you need to take to achieve it can help you gain clarity as to what your going to be doing and at which stage, so if you begin to veer off-course it becomes apparent. You can also revisit your plan when considering a pivot to assess how this alters the next steps or the end vision you had in mind.
2. Stay Positive
There is constructive criticism and then there’s outright negativity. Know the difference between the two. Pay attention to where the any advice or feedback is coming from and whether or not it is qualified. Remember to demonstrate your enthusiasm. How is anyone else supposed to believe in your vision if it doesn’t seem like you do?
3. Embrace Change
Don’t perceive every change to your product as a threat to your vision. In a business world that changes and fluctuates constantly it is important to keep an open mind and be flexible.
4. Say No
You don’t have to accommodate every customer demand. Your customers may want some features but it’s up to determine whether or not they are necessary, will be worth the cost of development, and at what stage they may become more important, if at all. Building every feature your customers want can quickly turn your software into ‘bloatware’. Instead log each feature request and pay attention to the ones that seem to come up repeatedly from different users as those may be the ones worth developing.
5. Don’t Rely Exclusively On Early-Adopters
Early adopters, the first set of users you typically encounter when launching a new product, are not the same as the average customer. For most markets, early adopters represent only 10 to 15 percent of potential customers. While listening to their feedback can be extremely helpful, if you build for early adopters you may not be building for the majority of your potential users. To stay true to your vision you must stay true to the average end-user. Ensure you involve a full-range of potential customers when testing your product, as early adopters often have more technical expertise and more feature demands than the average consumer.