Protecting what you don’t have

Early traction and a passionate user base is usually a very good thing. It can also kill you if you look at it the wrong way.

Here’s what happens a lot. You launch something, get some good early traction and a still relatively small but passionate user base. Folks love your product. They are confirming your view of the world.

All of a sudden, product decisions are not only made in terms of “how do we grow” / “address a big market” but also “let’s not break this” / “let’s not piss off our users”, etc.

However you may have just hit an early adopter base that exhibits entirely different behaviours than the much bigger mass market you actually want to address.  That user base may not be very valuable at all. You may have to really piss them off to address a much larger user base. Facebook pissed off a lot of early adopters. Twitter pissed off a lot of early adopters. I could go on.

Pissing off early adopters can be a very good and necessary thing.

By protecting them too much, you are just protecting a supposed value you don’t actually have.