The perfect fit
Ever wondered what would happen if everything in life was a perfect fit. A perfect fit dress, a perfect fit shoes, a perfect fit partner? What about a perfect fit job? Or a perfect fit team?
One of the “stage” that most startups seek to achieve is Product-Market fit. Back in 2007, Marc Andreessen famously wrote Product-Market fit as the only thing that matters for a startup and market being the most important factor in a startup’s success or failure, after team or product.
I believe that the life of any startup can be divided into two parts: before product/market fit (call this “BPMF”) and after product/market fit (“APMF”).
Wow — pretty bold, right? Being a keen follower of the startup world and being a part of it, I come across this term again and again. And how I view this term is all intertwined. I think the team being a fit to the product and the market is equally important. As leaders, let’s try to find our fit. Let’s ask to ourselves — am I a fit for the product and for the market of the company I work for?
Product-Me fit — do I love the product my company offers? Am I passionate about the solutions we’re ultimately trying to solve? Is the product meaningful enough to excite me to work everyday as much as it is to change people’s lives? Am I a committed client of the product?
Market-Me fit — do I connect to the users of whose problems we’re trying to solve? Am I determined to improve the lives of the group of people for who my company is serving? Do I sense a victory when the users win or failure when users complain?
Tough questions. So, how do we find out?
Let’s go back to Andreessen again. He writes:
You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening.
Likewise, I think you feel it when you aren’t a fit for the product or the market you are in. You aren’t quite getting any growth out of the role, skill set seems stagnant, you hardly talk about your role/ company within your circle and your work is nothing more than a paycheck. There is no connection. Total unfit — you spend your time in job sites more than books or Medium to learn how to excel in your job :)
And you can always feel it when you are a fit to the product or the market. You love your role and you want to talk to the customers, listen to them and get feedback. You’re constantly thinking of ways how to wow the customers. You don’t get drained after a day’s work. Rather, you feel accomplished, recharged and fulfilled. You explore how others are doing — in similar roles, similar business. You feel your work is bringing you closer to your purpose everyday.
So, all the leaders out there — The market is an important success factor but long term to make the success sustainable, you and your core team need to have a fit to the product and the market. This perfect “fit” team is always ahead of the curve; continuously pumping innovation even when they capture the hearts of the late majority and the laggards.
This continuous drive towards solving the problem for the right market is what is going to take both, us and our workplace, a long long way. As, Steve Jobs rightly said,
I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.