One day my manager showed me a horrible graph. It was pretty simple: the graph was steady, then it dropped straight down, then after a short period, the line shot straight back up and stayed level again:

“That’s what happens when we do the right thing”, he said while pointing at the drop, “and that’s how much money we lose. We tried it just to see how bad it was for our bottom line. And this is what the data tells us.”

“Wow,” I said, taken aback. My employer clearly had two options: “do the right thing” or “be profitable”. That was the position they had manuevred themselves into through a series of bad management decisions.

My manager then said, “More than half the company would have to lose their job in order for us to stop these tactics … so are you volunteering to be one of them?”

That was the day I learned I’d rather lose respectfully than win without honor. Once people become wary of your products or your business ethics, it’s game over. You can’t sustain for long, because you won’t keep your customers much longer.

Not to mention your employees.

…Every feature of any product you intend to sell or monetize should strive to be as polished as reasonably possible and function just as your end-user expects it should.

Don’t be one of those startups that delivers broken features with the excuse, “It’s just the M.V.P., we’ll fix it later.” Man up, admit it isn’t good enough, and fix it now.

Otherwise, you’re missing the entire point of the M.V.P. in the first place – to iterate quickly on small features based on customer feedback and measurable data. If it doesn’t work right in the first place, the only feedback you’ll get is likely what you already know.