Keeping a product alive often seems like the sole purpose of an entrepreneur. So much of your time is dedicated to figuring out how to keep the ship from sinking and moving it forward, that you can quickly lose perspective of why you began the journey in the first place.
To understand a product’s life cycle and the tasks of a product manager, we must begin with where products start.
A product is usually conceived after a personal need sparks an idea of a product to solve it.
After this initial spark, the idea has to be validated in order to confirm the problem affects a critical mass of people. This will determine if a business is viable.
After validating, your product is ready to be developed, tested, launched. This is easier said than done.
But, say you already made your product available, and you already signed up your first thousand users. One would think that after all this, your job is done.
But you’ll soon realize people aren’t as willing to pay for your product as they first said they were. For most first-time entrepreneurs, money will flow in slowly and unpredictably. This can be nerve-wracking and put an insane amount of stress over your shoulders.
Why do people not pay for your product right away?
The answer to that question is product-market fit. It’s very likely that the first versions of your product will fail to satisfy people’s demands. Because understanding these needs properly and providing an adequate solution is TOO DAMN HARD.
You will lose your first beloved customers. Either because they weren’t the right kind of customers for you, or because your product simply wasn’t ready, or you weren't the right kind of solution for them. That is a tough pill to swallow, but you’ll learn so much from them that it will make up for the money you failed to collect.
Products will inevitably change.
You will have a better understanding of your audience’s needs.
Our product team often gets asked what they do on a daily basis. Through the last 5 years, our product team has constantly released new features, bug fixes, and product improvements, and a new version of the tool is pushed live every other week. While some of these changes are simply “the tool working as it should be”, some of them unlock a new layer of possibilities.
You’ll realize that to keep your product alive, you’ll need to become adaptable on all fronts of your company.
You need to embrace the unknown and have the will to question your own hypotheses and reinvent yourself entirely if needed.
We set out to help users build better presentations, easier and faster. We wanted to help end users who were seeking an alternative to presentation tools they hated using and were stuck with for years. While the spirit of that claim is valid to this day, many things have changed:
We went from freemium to premium, realizing our business model was unsustainable with the former model. We understood that competing with the big sharks was going to be a death race, and we went for specific market niches, catering startups, and small/medium businesses. Our product has changed drastically over the years.
That has been the key to our success. We didn’t get stuck on our idea of what our business had to be and instead became what our business needed to be in order to serve our customers properly.
Our latest product novelty revolves around the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to design users’ slides. The new slide editor will be able to factor in millions of graphic variables at once and provide optimized solutions to people’s presentations. This kind of innovations have been critical to our success, and have allowed us to outlive many other tools.
But in the end, what we’ve come to realize is that these plans and business projections are not meant to predict what will happen, but rather to set a path for your company. Whether you meet them or not is somewhat irrelevant. What matters is how much wanting to meet those goals will be an engine to move your product forward, and adapt it to the many challenges it will face.
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