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The most important act for a startup is not deciding what to build; rather it is deciding what not to build.

This wise, oft quoted principle exhorting entrepreneurs to focus on product goals is essential to success, but is typically applied only internally. However, entrepreneurs must also extend outside the organization to customer interactions, both in  product design and in sales.

As product managers, we should aim to measure and conserve a user’s time and attention by building products that focus user’s attention. A few of my favorite apps that embody this notion are OmmWriter, Writer for the iPad, The Sixty One and Readability.

The same is true in sales. Managing customer attention is especially critical for startups because most lack brands and must educate the customer about the product and company while selling the offering – a challenging proposition. Enforcing this discipline has driven the success of both enterprise companies like SolarWinds and consumer companies like Google and Mint, among many others. 

Tell one story in your sales (and fund raising pitch) and focus your users on solving the one most important problem your product solves. Focus, focus, focus.

 

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