A typical first-time founder wants to build a super product! A product that can solve multiple problems within a blink of an eye. The truth is you really can’t blame them for thinking that way. They are always fixated on studying only successful products. They never really take out time to learn from products that have failed. Studying failed products gives you all the information you need to avoid mistakes that have already been made in terms of building a product and more.
I have been an integral part of a company that builds products for founders for years now. I’ve come across some patterns I think will be very beneficial to founders who are still at the ideation stage or somewhere in between product development.
Lesson 1: Stop adding a bunch of unnecessary features no one cares about
This is a problem many first-time founders have. They want to model their product after product that has been entrenched in the market. Products that have existed for 8-10 years. They want to be those products overnight without considering that those products have gone through all the stages of the product life cycle.
Founders need to understand that it is not remotely possible to build a product that has existed for 10 years in 6 months. Founders should learn to manage their ambitions when building a product.
Lesson 2: Focus mainly on the problem you are eyeing to solve
It is super easy to get carried away with several other problems you think your product can solve. But it’s advisable to focus mainly on the core problem you are trying to solve. The moment you begin to start looking to solve more problems outside the scope of the core problems you are trying to solve you inadvertently lose focus from the actual problem you are trying to solve which eventually might end up being a goose chase.
Lesson 3: Set a hard deadline from day one
Sometimes building a product can be a rollercoaster of indecisions, uncertainty, and a lot of other unpleasant experiences. These experiences certainly affect the product development process in terms of timing and quality of resources that go into the development. Be that as it may, Founders need to be resolute about when they intend to complete their product development and launch. This way situations are managed a lot better because expectations in terms of timeline are aligned.
Lesson 4: Manage your expectations
This is specifically for first-time founders. THERE IS NO PERFECT PRODUCT! Most founders are looking to build a perfect product before they go to market, in a bid to build a perfect product they spend so much time on building the product they forget about their users. If products could be perfect software giants won’t realize updates monthly or however they schedule their update releases. The point is to build a product that is good enough within a reasonable stipulated time, go to market validate your idea, pivot if you need to, iterate until you can find a product-market-fit, then scale.
Lesson 5: Make your UI simple enough
Simplicity is the highest form of sophistication. Don’t get carried away with adding so many features to your product to the point that your UI begins to look like a toolbox. Focus more on the simplicity of UI. The kind of simplicity that a 5-year-old can easily navigate without any hassle.
Lesson 6: Do away with the “If you build it, they will come” Mentality
This is a very wrong mentality to have before going into product development. This is the kind of mentality that ran many startups aground. If you build it, they won’t come. Trust me, I know what I am writing about. Even some of your family members won’t use the product you have built. It’s usually a rude awakening for a lot of founders after they built a product and launched just for no one to give a damn about the product they have built. Launching is just 20% of the job. The remaining 80 percent is where the real work is. Marketing, iterations, scaling, etc…
Building a product is not a process that has a beginning and an end. Especially for founders. It’s an actively recurring process. You need to be ready to go through a rollercoaster of the good, the not so good and the highs and lows.