Scott Cathcart

Entrepreneur | Impact Investor | Triathlete

The Key to Product Entrepreneurship: Keep it Simple


To gain the best success in a tech startup, a company must have “focus” and a minimum viable product (MVP) that can do a few functions better than any other product on the market. If you work from there, you can use customer feedback to add more features. Here are a few organizational rules that will stop you from giving in to the urge to add too many features:

1)Separate the gathering of requirements from the implementation of products
Any good startup team has someone in the role of “product owner” who is not a coder or an engineer. This person will collect information from customers and figure out which features are truly necessary for the product. After this data is received, the developers and executives can take the next steps.

2) Define roles and decision authorities, and make sure to enforce them
People need to have clear roles in your company. The financial executives will monitor spending and set staffing budgets. Developers should have the greatest say in the implementation, duration, and sizing alternatives. The marketing team and the product owner should use competition and customer expectations to determine the minimum viable product level.

3) Communicate, choose a formal development process, and stick with it
Don’t keep development cycles and timeframes open-ended. Make sure you schedule and track the timeframes. If you do not do this, the number of features is likely to increase, causing the quality to go down.

4) Keep the same total number of features
You will find yourself updating or substituting features as needed, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, it is a necessary part of the process. But many tech companies make the mistake of adding features without removing others. Stay away from piling too many features onto your product.

5) Focus on stability, performance, and usability of main features
Some tech entrepreneurs allow the desire to add more features to override the focus on the existing features. Don’t fall into this trap. Make sure the the basic features of your product are high-quality and easy to use. A simple product that does a few functions well will always do better than a product that does several functions badly.

6) Add small numbers of features in increments
If a product already has a ton of features upon its initial release, these will increase the time-to-market. Instead, make sure the customer requirements are re-prioritized and re-confirmed after each release. Releases should occur about every few months.

7) Don’t add features for an individual customer
When you just want to close a sale, it can be tempting to add features for a single customer. But if you want your product to be successful, you’d better say “no” to this idea. If a feature is added without being evaluated for its appeal to the general public, your product will become difficult to support.

8) Build multiple products instead of one product with a lot of features
If you have a multiple-product strategy, this will naturally lead to a planning cycle for market requirements, marketing efforts, and resources required. Customers will not feel that they are being forced to buy features that they don’t want or need.

While many entrepreneurs make the mistake of adding so many features they they turn off a large portion of the market, you can avoid this problem by following these simple strategies. For tech products, greater success comes from fewer features

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