Inside Out

Notes on seeking wisdom and crafting software

A lesson on clarity

Say you’re a small business, with quite a few raving fans and a big vision for your product. You’re steadily building the product, one step by one step. One fine morning, you get an email enquiry from a fortune 500 company asking for a feature. They promise: if you implement feature X, we are going to buy 2.5k seats of your product.

OK, 2.5k seats, that's about 40% of your existing customer base. So you go ahead and make the promise. Feature X is coming in by end of June. You spent enough resources in building the feature, toiled hard day and night, finally you made it. You got the 2.5k accounts. Yay!

That's pretty much the story I have heard everytime. This time she (the business owner) said "NO"!

Her reasoning was pretty simple: they are a small business, they run on small accounts. The existing users have a wish list, and she has them prioritized by number of votes. The feature X doesn't show up in her backlog/vision yet. Unless she gets enough votes from people, she can't prioritize it (in a transparent way) ahead of other customer asks. While she will win a big account - but she knows one account not equal to 2.5k raving fans!

What I learnt? Be bold to say NO to asks, be aware of the opportunity cost, learn to optimize for vision and happiness.