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Startup Insights: Putting a Product in the Marketplace : Page 2

Bringing a product into the marketplace is just the first step on a long and arduous journey to make the product liked, respected, actually used by people on a consistent basis.


6) Perseverance

Facing consistent customer indifference and negative feedback can be depressing over time.  Sure, you can shrug things off for a while, but lets face it: we are all human and all have our sensitivities.  It isn't easy to work incredibly hard just to learn of the many mistakes you have made and see competitive products still fare better than yours.  In the entrepreneur world praise is much harder to come by than criticism.

Try to keep a greater perspective and find ways to cope and persevere through the negativity.  Another thing to try to do is to get yourself out of the negative cycles all-together.  Try to understand where you are finding the most negativity and why. Likely the largest source of negativity surrounding your product is also the area where your product has the lowest quality and fixing that may help decrease negativity.

Once you understand the roots of the negativity, it will be easier to see the negative cycles when they will begin to repeat, and they will be easier to stop. You have to do what you can to allow yourself to persevere through the tough and negative times. Entrepreneurship isn't all about sexy million dollar exists.  Much of the process is grueling and arduous and you just have to find ways to get through it.

7) When To Quit on the Product

Sometimes you should just quit.  Since you should also at all times give it your absolute best, I realize that these two suggestions may sound contradictory, but you have to understand when the project just isn't going anywhere. If the sentiment of customer feedback is not improving and if you are not seeing growth in users, visits, or revenue, something is not right. To continue, you must have at least some metrics which show growth. If not, you should at least have plans and actions in motion to make those metrics grow. If you do not even have plans or ideas on how to make these metrics grow, and do not see any interesting ways to pivot the project, that may be a hopeless-enough situation to consider abandoning the project.

8) Measuring Performance

No matter what efforts you make in your project, you will be better off if you can measure the effectiveness of your efforts. If you add a feature to your product, it won't give you much insight into its effectiveness if you don't know whether one person used that feature or one million people did.

The best way to iterate on and improve your product is to create measurable metrics which have real meaning to your business. Some of the very common such metrics are unique user visits (measure marketing efforts and visitor growth), how long the visitors stay on the site (gives a sense of improving/decreasing product quality) or the rate of sign-ups per x number of visitors which gives you a sense how well your landing pages are optimized. These are very general metrics and specific businesses will likely have more insightful metrics they will need to measure as well.

Without tracking many different metrics, you really wouldn't know how effective your product or your product-improvements are. You won’t be able to tell what you are doing wrong and why, and that may cause you to fail because you will not be learning about the effective practices for your business.

9) Product-Market Fit

All of this talk about indifference, iteration and perseverance boils down to one single point in time. Perhaps it is an inflection point. This is the point when your ever-maturing product will become right for its market. It will offer enough value and uniqueness to be compelling enough and begin to easily acquire new customers.

All the efforts before this point are merely a search for the right fit.  It is a little bit like squeezing yourself into that single open seat on a crowded train - you have to fit there just right.  Once you fit, everything will be that much easier for you.  Your customers will give you increasingly positive feedback, the positivity will give you more confidence, and with the extra confidence and accompanying good things that come from a maturing product, you will be further on your way to building a great company.

10) Keeping an Eye on Your Vision

Throughout the entire process of building the product, listening to customers, going back and rebuilding the product once more, and continuing this never-ending cycle, it is easy to get lost amidst the myriad of outside suggestions and options.  There must be some holding principles that help you maintain focus on some larger goals and visions.  For Google, their motto has been to "not become evil" which is good but quite general. If you are Facebook, your motto may be to "create the best place for people to socialize online."

That isn't Facebook's real motto, but it applies to nearly every feature they create.  Having such a creed or a motto also helps prioritize future product features and to see where the product is going in a larger sense.  You should always ask whether your current product initiatives are in line with your company creed or motto.  It will help you keep things focused over the long haul.

Alex Genadinik is the founder of San Francisco Hiking Community and a Startup Consultancy. Please say hello and continue the conversation on this topic on Twitter @genadinik
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