In the startup world, many founders feel once they launch their product, they have finished the hard work of a startup. The reality is what you have finished by launching a product is the initial stages and the requirements to starting on your business venture. After launch, your challenges change dramatically from focusing on getting your product delivered to meet user needs to drilling deeper down on your key metrics that drive business growth and user adoption. In this world, it is not enough to get something done, but instead you need each change to drive growth and to constantly take your product and find ways to innovate it further to continue to expand your business by maturing your product.
During this stage of product lifecycle management is when you separate a product founder and a product manager who really needs to take the reigns and apply more tactics to become data and customer driven on feature prioritization. As part of our product launch playbook, here are the product management tips if you are at the product launch stage now and need to start growing your business:
- Define and track your KPIs. Agree as an organization on your goals for key metrics such as conversion, churn, adoption or other metrics as a business you feel should be fueling your growth. As a product manager, monitor these and plan your roadmap accordingly to adjust to ensure you bring up and KPIs that are not meeting expectations.
- Track product usage. If you release features, check if anyone is using them and how they are using them. Once you release a feature, work on it until you see that it is adopted within your goals of feature adoption. Your work is not done just because a feature is released, you need to ensure it is being used and adds value.
- Don’t get feature crazy. Features in themselves do not grow the business. Instead cause more maintenance from your development and support teams. Make sure the features you decide to move forward with are game changing and then once released keep working them to maximize their usage.
- Design matters. Customers want to be impressed by your design and interface for your product. Spend the time to constantly look at how it is interacted with and how you can simplify it to make the most from the experience.
- Don’t forget about competitors. Just because you launched and were differentiated when you did it doesn’t mean you still are. Constantly look at competition to see if you are ahead of the curve or if they launched a new feature you need to consider.
- Listen to customers. Your customers will communicate pain points to you if you listen. Constantly be open to hearing what they have to say and how you can take their feedback and turn it into a solution for your product.
- Watch the industry you support. The world is changing all of the time and different laws come into effect, trends pop up, industry needs change. You need to be plugged into the space you support to know what is going on and how your product needs to change to match.
- Be humble in your approach to product management. Do not assume you know it all and always be open to listening to feedback from your team, customers and stakeholders around you. Feedback is the lifeblood of a product manager.
- Define your roadmap but be willing to change it. Product roadmaps are meant to give you a path to complete your vision but it is not set in concrete. Your product roadmap can change to keep up with the world around you. Set expectations accordingly.
- Your product is there to help customers and grow your business. Never forget your core value as a product and what is making you money. It is always good to test and try new things but never at the price of your core value offering.
Startup product founders have a lot of work to do to take an idea to product launch and then to keep scaling the business. Product startups are hard work but possible by following a strong product management playbook and be willing to never give up. You will need to move fast but don’t forget the value of planning to ensure you move fast in the right direction.