In a start-up environment people often end up as product managers depending on the product progression. Unlike larger multi-national companies, product often have a dedicated role and tasks assigned. However, this is not the case for product managers in start-up.
So here is a short introduction for a product manager on how they can get started!
The overwhelming feeling and uncertainty is completely normal for any new PM
You’ve just been given a project that you are meant to baby for the next 6 – 12 months and have a team below you that you lead. It is only normal to feel this way as a first time PM and have a team to lead and take responsibility for them. Channel this energy elsewhere into succeeding!
Many people tend to overlook this step. But in my opinion, need finding is one of the most important steps to take before kickstarting the process. By doing a comprehensive market analysis and competitors you can start building a product which is positioned differently to the others in the market.
Secondly, doing extensive surveys and ground work surveys (got to leave the chair to know what the world thinks!) is key. I emphasize on ground work surveys because when you ask questions it has to be open ended and allow the potential customers to talk about the problems they are facing and the pains they would like being addressed.
Using this data, you can start creating a profile of needs and requirements of the product.
Validation is key!
After need finding and choosing an approach to follow. You should have come to a product that is ready to use. But before it is market fit, it is crucial to validate the product. Many times, despite doing need-finding, it is normal to lose track of the requirements and make assumptions. Before acting on them it would be good constantly validate it.
N.B. Physical products are harder to validate because of the prototyping cost, but using a 3D printer to quickly model it and validating is a cheaper alternative as well.
Iterate! Iterate! Iterate!
Adapting to the needs of the market effectively would require several iterations. No one can create a perfect product in their first, second or even third go. Be prepared for harsh criticisms and constant changes. It is still vital to remember that while making these changes and criticism, not to lose sight of the market needs.
Keep reading and asking questions.
Stay up to date on trends and best practices, engage conversation with users and customers, learn and connect with your peers.
Product Management is a well-rounded role, with the need of technical knowledge and communication to be able to get the work done efficiently and accurately. That being said, the first few steps of a product manager is to be able to deliver. By following the Design Thinking process it might help create a wireframe to your timeline that you might now otherwise have.
The Design Thinking process used as an early stage product manager is really interesting because it creates a fundamental thought that can be later molded or built upon depending on the projects you get further.
For product managers who have some sense on how this works and are looking for a next level progression, this other checklist might be more helpful.