Your business model is not a software feature

I created a product a few years ago and whilst it is doing fine on new sales it is really bad at monetising the existing customer base. The reason it is doing so badly at monetising our existing customers is because I assumed that the business model could be plugged in later, like any other software feature.

I was 100% wrong.

Why didn’t I build the business model in from the start? Patience. Or rather my lack of patience.

The software took quite a while to write and I was very keen to get it out of the door as quickly as possible. I got to the stage that I was sick of the sight of the software and just wanted it finished. There is nothing wrong with wanting your project finished. But your project cannot be done if the business model isn’t baked in.

When I originally created the product, I tried to create the simplest product possible that nevertheless delivered value to the customer.

I put two things off from the first version of the software. One was the ability to notify customers when a new version of the software is available. The second was the ability to renew the software subscription after the free period had elapsed.

I thought that I could plug-in the business model at a later stage. Just like a new feature. Turns out I was wrong. Whilst I could retrofit now, an awful lot of the value has been lost. Perhaps most of the value. The vast majority of existing customers will never know about the new software and so will never upgrade.

One of the nice things about developing for the various app stores is that you don’t need to build the business model. Somebody else has done that for you.