Build with users

Much of the early startup process is about learning what your customers want. You should seek out users or potential users for feedback, iterate, and be flexible to meet the demands of your customers and the market.

Vision vs Feedback
However, your task as a founder is to find a balance between building toward your vision/intuition and building what the users want. Too vision-based products might miss user and market needs while too reactive products become Frankenstein creations without a clear purpose. You need to keep refining your product vision based on your user feedback.

Solve the problem not the feature
Understand that users will project their needs from the context or product they currently see, not the product that you’re trying to build. It’s common for users to ask for features you should add. Whenever they do, it’s important as a product builder that you ask them questions back. What is the use case? What is the problem they’re trying to solve with this feature or solution? How would their experience of the product be different if the problem was fixed?

By pivoting the conversation away from a feature request and toward explaining the problem they are trying to solve, you move the discussion towards the pain point. In this conversation, you’ll learn whether the problem is valuable to solve or nice to have. It also allows you to explore multiple solutions to the problem, and to choose the right one within the context of your broader vision.

Build for the right users
You may also talk to users who have a lot of feedback but who aren’t in your target demographic or aren’t it now. If you think you are building for things for early-stage startups, listening to an enterprise customer will likely set you on the wrong path and it’s unlikely that they will even become a customer.

Incorporate the feedback and let it refine your product, but don’t let user feedback alone dictate what you build. You can become too reactive to user feedback. This is why it’s good to have goals and roadmaps, that help you balance the needs of the users and the needs of the company.