Company    3 min read

Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings

Kill Your Darlings

When you’re building a product or service, nothing is more exciting than coming up with new ideas.

There’s something special about a concept epiphany. It’s the best feeling, right? It’s fresh, it’s scintillating, and it immediately becomes the most important thing in your product’s universe. You’re swooning. We hate to be a buzz kill, but you need to chill.

Remember: Falling in love with an idea can also be a recipe for disaster that leads to poor decision making down the road. How, you ask?

It’s simple. Your new idea, this great beacon of hope for your product that you didn’t know existed 5 minutes ago, could cause you to hold on to things you shouldn’t. Which, in turn, could leave you sentimental instead of impartial when evaluating how this idea helps achieve your goals.

New ideas can be fun, but distracting

Don’t get me wrong, new ideas for products can be great for a company. Not only can they can spur innovation, but they also have the healthy bi-product of bringing teams together towards a common goal.

But ideas can also be dangerously distracting. If your team gets caught up in the unrealistic potential of said idea, chasing a competitor for the wrong reasons, or following current trends, your product could be in trouble.

Ideas and famous product flops
Allow me to present Exhibit A above. Remember these products? Here we have the now laughable Betamax, New Coke, Apple Newton, Microsoft Zune, Heinz Purple Ketchup, and The Nook.

If you do remember them, it’s probably because they were massive flops. Although these products span several industries, there is one underlying reason they failed to succeed: they didn’t stay true to their core goals and values.

These infamous products wasted money, time, and resources trying to solve too many problems at once—leaving the end result something to be desired.

The lesson here is this: Just because all of those resources were exhausted doesn’t mean it’s worth trying to save your idea. Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Don’t be afraid to pull the plug and move on. The most important thing you can learn as a new business or startup is when to cut your losses and let a bad idea go.

Honesty really is the best policy

So how do you avoid becoming obsessed with an idea/feature/concept/product that doesn’t serve your goals?

To ensure you’re not seeing your idea through rose colored glasses, you owe it to yourself and your team to honestly (and frequently) assess your features and goals.

You owe it to yourself and your team to honestly (and frequently) assess your features and goals.

The easiest way to validate your idea is to review your product from a user’s perspective. Or better yet, put it in the hands of users and trusted colleagues and have them give you their unbiased opinion. If they respect you or your product, they’ll be more likely to give you honest feedback that will help to determine if you’re on the right track or not.

Don’t be afraid! Even if the feedback is harsh, it could open up other opportunities you were blind to before. You know, because of the whole rose-colored glasses thing.

We’ve talked to many entrepreneurs and founders that told us the thing they thought they were building wasn’t the thing they ended up with. As long as you don’t lose sight of the original problem you’ve set out to solve, you’ll still be able to move forward knowing you’re heading in the right direction.

Onward and upward!

Written by @mattdowney

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