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  6.6. The Minimum Feature Set Fallacy (5 min.)

Many entrepreneurs naturally resist the advice to develop a Minimum Feature Set because it cuts against everything they know about building products. Instead, they want to build the perfect product with all the great features before they show it to customers. One of the biggest reasons is the fear of customers saying negative things about an "incomplete" or "bare bones" product. We've all heard the statistics about the danger of negative word of mouth: every unsatisfied customer tells ten other customers. So how could you risk negative word of mouth by building a product with only a Minimum Feature Set?

This mindset is caused by a failure to understand the technology-adoption life cycle we described earlier. At the beginning, you don't need a Whole Product Solution. Remember, you should be building a product for the Innovators and the Early Adopters at this point, NOT the whole population. So the issue of spreading negative word of mouth to the general population doesn't apply at this point. It only applies when a product reaches the Early Majority, after crossing the chasm.

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The truth is that most new ventures never get close to the chasm. And they think the reason is because they haven't yet built a product with enough features to capture the attention of the whole public (i.e., Whole Product Solution). Over and over, we have observed that once entrepreneurs start building a product but then struggle to sell the product, their automatic reaction is to add more features in the hopes that one or two more will open the magical door to more sales. But adding more features simply covers up the core of what your solution does to solve a pain.

In contrast, the path to success begins with a Minimum Product Solution that strips the product down to the absolute core features that drives customers to purchase. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said, “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” Although you might feel the product is terrible, it is better to create a prototype based on these features than one that takes you a great deal of time and money.

(See Nail It Then Scale It, pgs. 97-98)