Understanding the Market/Fit equation Part 2

The road to Product/Market Fit will vary for every business leader, CEO, and startup founder. However, an entrepreneur can consider streamlined practices and principles in their journey to get Product/Market Fit. According to Brainchild Marc Andreesen, the first step to doing this is acknowledging that everything is in front of you. All of the resources handed to you can be used as a lever to push you toward the right Product/Market Fit direction.

Work hard and stay focused.

There is no substitute for perseverance and determination. Whether you’re the child of a billionaire or the offspring of dedicated food servers, how hard and smart you work will always be your call. That being said, do everything in your power to find your Product/Market Fit sweet spot. If you have to change advertising courses, replace team members, change your vision, re-write your brand essence, or elevate your services, do everything you can to find your business’ place under the sun.

When you’re focused enough to make sure you not only have a sure market, but a market that’s bound to love your product, everything else will feel secondary. Changing products, business partners, markets, ideas, and directions are all justifiable when you’re determined to find your Product/Market Fit. The truth is, this is the narrative of many brands. Twitter, Instagram, Soylent, all these companies didn’t start out according to their initial plans, but they’re doing absolutely well in the industries they’re in. Why? Because they have defined markets that look forward to using their services.

Product/Market Fit is a team effort.

If you work with a team, it’s vital that you tell them early on—assuming you’re in your startup years—that your business is on a quest for Product/Market Fit. Meaning, everyone has to be on board and ready for a drastic shift in direction should the need arise. It’s no secret that the journey to Product/Market Fits doesn’t come in the form of a linear order.

Like brands finding where they belong in an industry, it’ll look blurry, confusing, and dark many times. Continue pitching and eliminating ideas when applicable. For instance, renowned American marketer, Ryan Holiday, reiterates that a brand’s Product/Market Fit isn’t an imaginary industry haven a business leader finds himself in after a nap. It’ll take hard work, heartbreak, and a whole lot of experimentations before it starts to make sense, and things fall into place.

As long as evidence, facts, and figures support business decisions, don’t be afraid to throw out months or even years worth of work. You’ll find that many businesses today aren’t how they were anymore compared to when they launched. This is because modern enterprises are designed to evolve until they find their Product/Market Fit. And to get there, every member has to know their role.

Audiences are not created equal.

As you progress in business, you will notice that some markets respond faster than others. Enterprise expert, Andrew Chen, has some strong points about the matter. In one of his many write-ups, he jots down the leading clues indicative when a business leader can say they’ve hit Product/Market Fit. He says a large number of potential users is the first clue your idea could be worth millions. Followed by a high growth in numbers of potential customers, and then the ease of user acquisition.

In other words, Product/Market Fit isn’t just about building a product for any market that demands it. It’s about making a product for a strong, growing, and robust market. After all, your sales are dictated by how many people support what you have to give.

Measuring Product/Market Fit

You can’t manage anything you can’t measure. This is why once you’ve found your Product/Market Fit sweet spot, the next question isn’t only “how do I know if my business is inching closer to a Product/Market Fit?” But also, “how do I keep pleasing my market to remain in this space?”

This is a difficult question, and there are no all-purpose answers. Still, there are three questions you can keep asking to make sure you’re on the right path.

Do my consumers talk greatly about my product?

If you’ve ever called your local service provider for complaints or queries, then you most probably have already answered a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey after the call. NPS surveys are excellent, quantifiable measurements in determining how committed and dedicated your customers are to your brand. Questions like, “From 1-10, how likely are you to recommend Brand A to your friends and family?” help you gauge where your customers are in their relationship with your brand.

Will my consumers care if my business closed tomorrow?

Another NPS question that helps entrepreneurs figure out how involved their consumers are with their business is measuring how distraught they would be if their services and products would no longer be available the following day. Answers like very disappointed, somewhat disappointed, and not disappointed can reveal many things about how your customers feel about your brand.

But don’t be too hard on yourself. Experts say that it only takes over 40% of “very disappointed” answers to signify that you’re on the right track. NPS surveys are a science of their own, so study how they’re built and how these work. The better you become at running these surveys, the easier you will find out where you stand in your Product/Market Fit journey.

Do consumers leave right away?

In one of his online lectures, startup guru, Alex Shultz, talks about how his definition of Product/Market Fit is reliant on user retention. Using a formula, he encourages business leaders to stack the percentage of monthly active customers against the number of days from the acquisition. “If you end up with a retention curve that is asymptotic to a line parallel to the X-axis, you have a viable business and you have Product/Market Fit for some subset of market.”

Overall, arriving at a Product/Market Fit is a complicated journey that requires multiple variables at different stages. What do you think about Andreesen’s approach to business sustainability, and where do you think your business stands in the Product/Market Fit at present?

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