Listening to fellow entrepreneurs speak at the Defrag conference in Denver today, I realized that a lot of my brethren were uttering a phrase I often find escaping my own lips. "My customers are using my product in ways I never thought of before."
It struck me, not because my pure brilliance is being stolen by others in the world of startups, but because it’s an important point to underscore. Successful products will almost always be used in ways that the original inventor didn’t consider. Innovation has a great track record in this regard. Consider all of the innovations created for the space program — from Tang to Teflon — that have found their way into the hands of consumers for uses beyond what the scientists behind them had likely planned.
But it also should serve as a reminder to all entrepreneurs and innovators that once you release something into the wild, it will follow a path to be determined by the market and customers, not necessarily the one you had intended. Being a successful startup demands that you prepare for and embrace the flexibility needed to follow the flow.