Why You Sometimes Need To Piss Off Your Customers

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If you are an early stage startup, probably you are still so in love with your product that you are trying to satisfy every single prospect customer. Yet, this could be deadly for early stage ventures. The only way to avoid a permanent timesink is to simply let go of some of your customers.

I can still remember the first time I saw someone that I never ever met in my life using a product I created with my bare hands. It was probably one of the coolest feelings in my life.

I felt like a king. That’s the moment when I started to realize the first time in my life that the stuff they tell you is really true:

“Everything is possible!”

If you’ve ever built and sold a product that you or your team created over months and months of hard work you probably know what I’m talking about. You don’t need Red Bull or any other sort of steroids anymore to stay awake and function properly to run your business.

Your business has become your natural source of steroids.

And then you start to hopelessly fall in love with your customers. You start to treat them like kings because they open up a constant pipeline of endorphin supply to your blood vessels. You don’t want to disappoint them ever again.

You just want them to be happy. You want to get more and more of them to be able to experience this amazing feeling over and over again. You start hoarding. You’ve become the addict and your customers have become your drug.

That’s probably the worst thing to happen to you and your business, especially in your early stages. The moment you start valuing every single potential customer like a diamond you’re doomed.

Because then you’ll stop experimenting. You’ll stop taking risks. You don’t want to disappoint them. They are your air to breath. You just ran into the same dilemma the expert usually runs into.

But what really matters in the early stages of your business is not about hoarding prospects to be able to replicate that awesome feeling of selling stuff over and over again. It is about something entirely different.

It is about finding out what your customers really love. It’s about figuring out what works and what doesn’t. And that involves a lot of trial & error and also upsetting a lot of people.

It’s about finding out who your true customers are that are willing to pay money for your products. You need to filter out the free riders, the ones that steal your time, the ones that would never ever have become your customers anyway.

Remember, only 3% of the people interested in your product will buy it. Everything else is just outside noise. So we need to start filtering out real customers from the ones that will never ever become our customers.

We need to get rid of them.

They send wrong signals, push us into including new features that no one really wants, they complain all the time and at the end of the day never ever become our customers. They eat up our time, money and resources. They ultimately kill our startup.

And there’s just one way to get rid of these “trolls”. You need to try out as many different things as possible and figure out what works and what doesn’t. You literally have to piss off your customers in the early stages of your venture.

That’s a really tough thing to do as it means that we have to be willing to let some prospects go. We need to let go some of our steroids. It’s as hard as getting off from any other sort of drug addiction. But it’s the only way to stay focused and build a product your real customers crave.

So how does pissing off your customers look like in real life?

What you have to do is to interact with your prospects as often as possible. The more newsletters you send a week, the more people that are not really interested in your product or service will sign off.

The ones loving what you do will crave even more content.

You need to experiment early on with your business model, your pricing and so on to find the sweet spot. The earlier you start, the better. You don’t want to piss off your customer base of 1mn users by introducing a new pricing scheme, right?

Having one million customers complaining about your business might not be such a good idea (not to say it’s probably the end of your business). What you want to do instead is to piss off some of your first few hundred prospects.

The damage they can do is minimal but the learning experience is still exactly the same compared to the learning you would have had with 1mn customers.

So go out and charge all sorts of different prices, have different business models, experiment with them, charge some people more, some people less, find out what works and start pissing off some people.

What you’ll have at the end of the day is a solid base of metrics that will tell you what really works and what doesn’t. You’ll know exactly how much you can charge, what model works best and so on. And only then should you start scaling.

Trying to collect this kind of information later in your venture’s lifecycle might be deadly.

So start testing this stuff right now, piss off as many potential customers as possible and as early as possible and focus on your real customers and the stuff that really matters to them.

Forget about all the outside noise and start to get rid of one of your worst addictions. Your addiction of trying to satisfy every single prospect in the early stages of your venture.

You need to get rid of your customer addiction and start to let some of them go…



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