Agile, Product Management, Professional Development

Product Management 101: things to consider if you’re a start-up

Being part of a start-up is exciting and oftentimes that means you’re moving so quickly that you might forget certain essential things. So keep yourself in check with this check-list.  

1. Start with your Addressable Market
Even if you have the greatest idea in the world, if no one wants to purchase or engage with it then it’s a non-starter. Work out your addressable market and don’t be overly optimistic. It’s better to drill your addressable market down as small as you can to make sure your business case still stands up with less people using the product.  

2. Take a holistic view
Before you begin looking at the business case, write down all the things that your product will need. Look at it laterally and investigate whether there are regulatory or legislation requirements. Establish whether you have any expertise in the areas concerned and if you don’t, build a team around you who can help figure it all out.  

3. Review competitor products
What other companies are out there who have built similar products? How do they perform, what are the strengths and weaknesses of those products and what is the gap that your product will fill? If they have 2 million purchases per month how long did it take them to achieve that goal and how much marketing investment was required?  

4. Build a business case with a long term view
Many small businesses fail within the first few years, up to 60% according to Huffington Post, so don’t just look at the numbers in the short term, look at your long term numbers. Extrapolate a business case that goes out to the 5 year mark. Yes it gets difficult when you’re launching and have no historical trends to rely on, but you can revisit and revise it as time goes on. The business case will serve as a guidance point on where you expected to be versus where you are. If you focus on the short-term, you might find you lose out on a viable long-term business that takes some time to get off the ground.  

5. Test the market
Now that you’ve established you believe there’s enough people in market who want your product, that there’s a gap in competitor products which you fill, and that there’s a long-term commercially viable business, it’s time to test your assumptions. Build your minimum viable product (MVP) to establish if there is enough interest in market before you start building the real thing. Remember your MVP doesn’t have to be functioning – it could be a video that explains the product and gets interested people to sign up; or it could be a site that isn’t actually hooked up in the back end. Its core function is to determine if you should proceed to build your product, it doesn’t have to actually be your product.