The world often celebrates entrepreneurs who have made it big. The ones who have made it to the lists of 30 Under 30 magazines are mostly looked up to. Such entrepreneurs are aspirations for sure. But the most authentic and relatable life lessons come from those who are hustling their way through their entrepreneurial journey right now.
The visionaries, the seekers, the doers and the persistent ones who take all the efforts required to keep their startups and businesses as relevant as possible. If you resonate with any of these traits, this write up is just for you.
Living at a time when lessons can be learnt from anyone and anywhere, this article explores the crucial lessons we as entrepreneurs can learn from product managers. Like our tribe, they juggle multiple responsibilities, bring in parallel competencies to the table and are often the bridge between diverse teams.
So, here are some interesting lessons we can pick up from product managers.
There’s No Need To Love Your Product
While we agree that your product is your brainchild and labor of love, the first lesson here is to not fall in love with it. Your product was conceived to solve a particular problem and just like markets, problems evolve. They become complex or redundant. Your product needs to stand the test of time regardless.
Falling in love with your product makes it too personal. Any small modifications or criticisms hits the heart. Detaching yourself from your product lets you see the bigger picture – its actual market fit. The ultimate goal is to not sell the product you love but the one that your target audience needs.
Thinking Like A User
Product managers view their products objectively but entrepreneurs often don’t. Tunnel vision usually sets in and they get too tied up with the fascination of their idea. In this process, they completely overlook their target audiences, their preferences, limitations and challenges. When these loopholes are created, there is an instant disconnect between the end user and the product you intend to develop.
So, to avoid this, take off your entrepreneur shoes and think like a user. You would uncover newer insights that make more sense. It could be as simple as the placement of a button to as crucial as market pricing. This is also where traits like empathy comes in.
Learn The Art Of Prioritizing Tasks
There is no dearth of opportunities and challenges in the entrepreneurial space. Either you are busy creating one or held up fixing one. You are often caught up amidst a series of tasks and work, each of which is important in its own way. So, should you work on the feedback from your development team, fix the invoice issues from the vendor, dedicate time to recruiting a new business development manager or pay attention to something else?
This is where product management practices like Agile product development and DevOps come in handy . You have a systematic way of approaching tasks and finishing them based on their priorities. Product managers are highly efficient at this, ensuring deadlines are met.
Good Vs. Perfect
As entrepreneurs, we chase perfection. Resorting to anything that is less than perfect seems blasphemy. However, the major difference here is with the mindset of product managers. They are content with a product being good. This stems from the basic understanding that a product continues to evolve with time and insights from diverse studies. Prioritizing perfection only delays the time to market with no substantial insights as such.
The first truth we should acknowledge is that unless proven by data, everything is an assumption. So, ideally, choose going live with your product once it is good to go instead of consistent optimization in pursuit of perfection.
Entrepreneurs and product managers belong to two different tribes. There’s no arguing there. The stakes of an entrepreneur are a lot higher and more sensitive than that of product managers. . However, the takeaway here is product managers are some of the most competent professionals in an organization and there is plenty to learn from them. With an open mind and the mindset to absorb things from around, entrepreneurs can indeed fast track their success journey in this highly competent market.
What do you think?
(The author is Mr. Madhukar Jha, Program Head – Product Management, UNext Learning and the views expressed in this article are his own)