- You've got a product, a product idea. You're starting to work on it. If you launch your product and no one cares, then you had no product market fit. Your goal in your exploratory phase, especially as you're going through the product development cycle, is to constantly be testing product market fit as you're going through that product development. This idea of product market fit is the magic that happens when your product really hits a market need.
And in a lot of ways, the only way to know that you have product market fit is after the fact when you start to see really rapid adoption of your product. But there's a lot of things that you can do in advance of releasing the product that help you determine whether you've got product market fit. The biggest of this is to really listen to your prospective early customers. Get the product into people's hands at the very beginning, well before it's a product. When you get it into people's hands, it's not just give it to them and say, what do ya think? But it's give it to them and watch.
Observe what they're doing with it. Listen to their feedback. Be critical of your own product. If you are thinking to yourself, oh, they don't know how to use it. Or oh, they're doing it wrong. Turn it around. And try to figure out what it is about your product and the way that you're giving your product to your early customers that's causing them not to understand how to use it. View it as your problem to solve, to find that product market fit. Versus this random thing where the market has to come to your product.
One of the things that happens as you're getting close to release your product is there's often a lot of anxiety because it's your first product release, and so there's this big activity and momentum around it. If, by the time you've released your product, you don't know that it's going to fit with the market that you're initially going after, you screwed up that ability to test in advance, and you really side-stepped this opportunity for product market fit. Many products that are launched into the market fail because the product itself was really interesting, but there was no feedback loop from those early customers or the customers that were the alpha or beta users that gave the developers of the product that feedback.
So just listen. Listen carefully to the feedback that you're getting as you explore and experiment with the product.
- Define “shiny object syndrome.”
- Identify your customer’s pain.
- Determine the scalability of a product.
- Recall the best time to initiate customer acquisition.
- Review the differences between a passionate employee and an obsessed employee.
- Recognize the benefits of domain experience when building a founding team.