Feature Creep to Mission Creep

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Essays

Lately I have seen a number of very early-stage technology companies add incremental features in a race to instrument user or revenue growth.

“If we put a new tab in which allows us to target n+1 customers, that category will take off” or “we have introduced a complimentary product line focused on a higher-margin sale to the same customers”

Of course, the most successful software companies have all diversified their offerings; they have added features that target different segments of the market and compete with their peers. But when you are a pre-A or even pre-B company, and you are adding features or orthogonal product offerings, I caution you to be careful of mission-creep.

Many of the most successful high-growth tech startups today, especially on mobile, are very simple, and focused. They do one, (or a very small handful of), things very well. Once you have done that thing well, established organic interest in your brand or established your product experience in the market, *then* you can diversify the offering. Do it too early, and you run the risk of being a jack of all and a master of none.

It is just as effective to ‘say no’ to certain product development opportunities, or to ‘remove’ features rather than add them, especially in the early days when you are trying to find the perfect ‘hook’ to capture a user’s imagination. It will force you keep it simple, and to think hard about your mission: why your the world needs company!

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