If you want your business to succeed, you need to build products that your target customers really want.

At the early stages of starting up,  the most important thing you want to achieve is the ‘holy grail’ of business call product-market fit.

Without customers, your business is headed to the startups’ graveyard. When startups fail, half the time, it’s not because they didn’t develop and deliver a great product; it’s because they developed a product that no customers want or need.

You don’t really have a sustainable business until a significant number of your customers can say that they would be “very disappointed” without your product.

Marc Andreessen paints a vivid picture of product market fit. When you’ve hit product-market fit, he says,

“the customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it — or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers.”

Something as important as your product-market is not to be left to luck or gut feelings. Here is how to test and build your product to product-market fit.

1. Identify and document your assumptions

As long as you’re pre-product-market fit, you should accept that all you’re working with are assumptions. They may be calculated assumptions, instinctive assumptions, experienced assumptions or whatever you want to call them, but assumptions nevertheless.

It’s the market that decides if you’re right or not. So document everything you know about your market – who they are, where they are, how to acquire them etc

A crucial aspect of identifying your assumptions is your customer.

Who are they? What are their daily struggles? what are their emotional struggles? How can your business solve some or all of their problems?

To put it succinctly, your target audience is constantly trying to accomplish goals and solve problems concerning their lives – this process has been tagged Jobs or Jobs To Be Done. 

The Jobs to be Done framework was introduced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma. The framework is one of the best tools for understanding customer behaviour.

2. Put your assumptions to test

Attempting to invalidate your assumptions is probably the most important aspect of getting to product-market fit.

Meet and speak with your customers about your product. Doing this will help you understand your customers better and how your product is meeting with their needs, or not. Obviously, knowing the right questions to ask is crucial to this process.

There’s a super useful survey here that will help you capture all the relevant information about your product. The feedback will help you to adjust the product for market fit.

3. Evaluate the risk factors

Let’s face it, tinkering with your product may change the product altogether. And you are likely to lose a segment of your market.

So your major challenge at this point is obtaining sufficient evidence that those changes will elicit the desired response in the largest segment of your customers.

This is the reason why people build MVPs

An MVP – minimum viable product – is your product at its barest minimum. A good MVP will give you real-world data about your customers and how they interact with your product i.e. what they use the most, how they use it and when they use it.

4. Build your product

Once customer need and usage data are streaming in from your MVP, it’s time to start making decisions. What stays and what goes?

Remember, you’re building this for them, not you. So tinker, tear down, streamline and rebuild. Keep doing this and you’ll find out you’ve built a product people are fanatic about.

5. Keep testing

Now that you have got your product-market fit,  time to scale, yes?

Not so fast.

Take another survey. Remember that real product-market is when at least 40% of your users say they would  be “very disappointed” without your product or service.”

Ask your users this: “How would you feel if you couldn’t access our product?”

If you have more than 40% of your customers saying they’d be very disappointed, it’s safe to say, your product has achieved the market-fit, and ready to scale.


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Growth is the only essential thing you need to be a startup. Startups are created to grow fast. Everything else that happens within a startup is a derivative of growth.

Everything – ideation, product validation, product management, team building, fundraising – follows from growth. Without growth, early stage startup is just a small business losing money.

That is why founders are encouraged to focus on one metric – the one that matters. This is because, as a startup, your limited resources are a deterrent to wasting your time trying different things.

Depending on your type of business, growth will mean different things to different startups. And your one metric that matter changes over time. Getting rid of distractions enables you to focus your already limited resources – people, time, and money – on the one thing that moves the needle.

What is the one thing that signifies that your business is growing at a particular point in time?

In the beginning, growth for a lot of startups has more to do with user acquisition and engagement than revenue. The advantage of defining your growth metric is it tells you the most important thing about your startup and how should drive it.

You need to consider the followings when choosing your growth parameter.

1. Your business model

The way you monetize your product is an indication of the value that will be created by your business. It’s not always about the money, but revenue metrics provides a standard benchmark for growth metrics.

2. How you acquire your customers

The rate at which your products gets into the hands of users is a substantial measure of how scalable and successful your product can be. Inherent in the DNA of startups is the ability to build products that have the potential of being ubiquitous and viral within a short time frame.

That is why most startups are tech-enabled companies because technology enables innovation not just in the way products are made, but how they are distributed. You can measure your growth based on metrics such as unique web visits, page views, app downloads, partner signups, user signups, conversion rate, churn rate, etc.

3. The stage of your business

The stage of your company will determine what to focus on. Early stage business should be obsessed about metrics that validates their product-market fit more than mid or late stage companies.

In the beginning, your growth metric is based on time-based milestones you need to reach such as partnerships, signup at a particular time, user signup rate, number of feature releases, etc. It is important that you wrap this with specific numbers as much as possible to measure progress.

4. How you measure growth

Answering this question will help you make right decisions. Let’s assume you decide to measure your growth by the number of subscribers to your email list. First, you’ll have to optimise your product, website, app, content and every potential user interactions to grow this list.

You then measure the results of all your actions on a regular basis against this metric. You hold yourself and your team accountable with data and see whether you are making progress or not. You deep dive into all your acquisition channels to identify where you are getting the most number of subscribers. You look at the numbers every day and experiment with various tactics and tools to see how you can grow the subscription rate.

As you focus on a particular growth metric and optimise your products accordingly, magic happens. You identify particular big hairy destinations to drive your startup towards and you can measure the how and the rate at which you are getting there. And as you grow, your goal may change, and you redefine your growth metric.

You build, you measure, you learn.  And you continue the cycle until you reach your true north.