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Should I Always Listen to My Fans?

The second you stop becoming a passive listener and create something, it's on. Everyone has an opinion and would love to be your CEO for a day.

This is good.

Feedback and constructive criticism help develop your art and your business. Listening to your fans is a good habit to get in; they do pay your bills after all.

However, sometimes they're very wrong.

Steve Blank's piece in The Atlantic describes A Great Way to Kill Your Startup: Listen to All Your Customers. It's a conversation between Steve and an ex-student Satish. Satish spent loads of time doing customer research and is now facing a stagnant business where no customers are converting from his free version to his paid version. After Satish finishes explaining his predicament, Steve finally reveals the wisdom he hinted at with the title of the post:
Part of Customer Development is understanding which customers make sense for your business. The goal of listening to customers is not please every one of themIt's to figure out which customer segment served his needs - both short and long term.
If airlines did exactly what I wanted I'd be flying around for free in a jacuzzi-only section of the plane. As awesome as this would be, I suspect this may not be in American Airlines' best interests, especially with that whole bankruptcy thing going on. Fans will tell you what makes them happy, which is very important, but be aware that they're not thinking about your underlying business model.

Be open minded, but do the work in evaluating the idea before you run amok.

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