It’s no secret that most Founders start out with a lot to prove. At the beginning of your startup journey, the risk of failure is high.
According to CBInsights, 42% of startups fail because there is ‘no market need’. That’s right, most startups fail because they do not solve a problem for their customers. People, simply, did not need what they were selling.
So, how do you know if your customers need what you are selling?
It starts with listening. Successful teams spend time listening to and learning about their customers, the market, pricing, and each of the millions of aspects that underpin any business, while they are building the business. More critically, the team is able to apply what they learn to the original business idea, slowly changing it into something that is acceptable and wanted by a massive audience, finding product-market fit.
Marc Andreesen coined the term, product-market fit as “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market”. What wasn’t mentioned was exactly how you find product-market fit. Andreesen insists that you can feel it when you’re there. That as a founder you’re at product-market fit when you’re on the edge of chaos frantically trying to deal with the ever-growing number of happy, loyal, and ideally paying customers.
Must be nice, huh! Well, what about the rest of us that are trying to find that happy level of chaos. How do you find product-market fit?
Look for customers with their hair on fire. Seriously, if you’re standing next to a customer with their hair on fire all they will be thinking about is putting out that fire and fast. They are desperate for a solution and they don’t care if the hose is green or yellow. Your customers need to be desperate for the solution you’re providing.
Most often, getting to this point requires building a MVP (minimum viable product) and taking that to your customer base. Then, listen. Analyze the feedback you’re getting from your customers and iterate your product over and over again – launch fast, then iterate. At this early stage of a business, you have the opportunity to be nimble, move quickly, and deal with any issues by having unusually good customer service.
How do you find product-market fit? Choose a market where users have a real, meaningful problem, launch fast, then listen. Your customers will provide you with the answers if you listen carefully.