The world often celebrates entrepreneurs who made it big. Those that make it onto the lists of 30-under-30 magazines are the ones that get the most looks. Such entrepreneurs are certainly aspirations. But the most authentic and relatable life lessons come from those just now pushing through their entrepreneurial journey.
The visionaries, the seekers, the doers, and the persistent who make every effort to keep their startups and companies as relevant as possible. If you resonate with any of these traits, this report is for you.
At a time when learning can be done by anyone, anywhere, this article explores the critical lessons we as entrepreneurs can learn from product managers. Like our tribe, they juggle multiple responsibilities, bring parallel skills, and are often the bridge between different teams.
So here are some interesting lessons we can learn from product managers.
You don’t have to love your product
While we agree that your product is your idea and an affair of the heart, the first lesson here is don’t fall in love with it. Your product is designed to solve a specific problem, and just like markets, problems evolve. They become complex or superfluous. Regardless, your product must stand the test of time.
When you fall in love with your product, it gets too personal. Every small change or criticism hits the heart. When you detach from your product, you see the bigger picture – its actual marketability. The ultimate goal is not to sell the product you love, but what your target audience needs.
Think like a user
Product managers see their products objectively, entrepreneurs often do not. Usually tunnel vision sets in and they get too caught up in the excitement of their idea. In doing so, they completely overlook their target groups, their preferences, limitations and challenges. When these loopholes are created, there is an immediate disconnect between the end user and the product you are trying to develop.
So to avoid this, kick off your entrepreneurial shoes and think like a user. They would uncover newer insights that make more sense. It can be as simple as placing a button, to prices as crucial as the market price. This is where qualities like empathy come into play.
Learn the art of prioritizing tasks
There is no shortage of opportunities and challenges in the entrepreneurial field. Either you’re busy creating one or you’ve held up the repair. They are often caught in the midst of a series of tasks and work, each important in its own way. So should you be working on feedback from your development team, fixing vendor billing issues, spending time recruiting a new business development manager, or focusing on something else?
This is where product management practices like agile product development and DevOps come in. They have a systematic way of approaching tasks and completing them based on their priorities. Product managers are very efficient at this and ensure that deadlines are met.
Good vs. Perfect
As entrepreneurs, we strive for perfection. Resorting to anything less than perfect seems like blasphemy. The biggest difference here, however, is the mindset of the product manager. You are satisfied with a good product. This results from the basic understanding that a product develops over time and the knowledge gained from various studies. Prioritizing perfection only delays time to market without significant insights as such.
The first truth we should acknowledge is that everything is an assumption unless proven by data. So ideally, opt for going live as soon as it’s ready to use, rather than rigorously tweaking in the pursuit of perfection.
Entrepreneurs and product managers belong to two different tribes. There’s no quarrel there. The stakes of an entrepreneur are much higher and more sensitive than those of a product manager. . Most importantly, product managers are among the most competent professionals in a company and there is a lot to learn from them. With an open mind and the mindset to absorb things from the surrounding area, entrepreneurs can actually accelerate their journey to success in this highly skilled market.
What do you think?
(The author is Mr. Madhukar Jha, Program Manager – Product Management, UNext Learning and the views expressed in this article are his own.)