The Product Owner role indirectly prepares you for entrepreneurship: you know the market, the business, and the pitfalls. But is there enough experience to launch your project? What should a product manager think before moving to a startup as Head of Product?
So, you’ve got an offer from a startup to lead the entire product line. Here’s a quick checklist to help you with a decision and make the next part of your life not so bad.
- Clarify what is meant by “whole product line”. Perhaps these are the tasks of product development, marketing, sales and entering a new market. Then the startup doesn’t need you, but seven other specialists.
- Make sure the current team understands what the product manager is for, and not just trying to take the burden off the CEO. You can ask this right at the interview.
- Define a metric for the success of your job. It is important. Record it, at least in the follow up email. The world will change, but the expectations from you will remain the same.
- Try to find out the financial framework for your job. Please don’t ask the CFO about it. Talk to the CEO. Compare your expectations with the proposed budget. I once made a huge mistake believing in the CFO’s words about the company’s terrible P&L. And at the start, it was true. As a result, I saved my budget as best I could, did not hire the necessary specialists and made some completely wrong product decisions. The situation has changed to good, but the management did not inform the employees to avoid multiple dividends requests.
- Fix the option. If you are an experienced product and take risks associated with going to a startup, do not agree to verbal agreements. When the startup takes off, the founders will forget to share with you. Or they will try to get rid of you by changing the very definition of success (see point 3). Nobody asked you to be so devoted to a project, right?
No templates and no pathways.
Perhaps you went through startup school and decided to launch your project as CEO. It is the organic development of you as a specialist, and this is the only way to check what your ambitions are worth. If a business idea is not only captured your mind but entirely coincides with your life values, this will protect you from a burnout. Otherwise, you will have to drag the weak idea up the mountain.
Thousands of books are on the shelves tell how to start your own business. I want to share the insights that will come to those who start a project with the motivation to be the better version of the ex-boss.
The product manager’s view of the business is somewhat limited. Even if a company only sells one main product, there are many more tasks. It is the first cold shower — 80% of the time went to side processes and operations. Prioritization frameworks won’t help.
Leave perfectionism aside and cultivate laziness. The healthy feeling that some of the processes take up will show a sore point.
Everyone in the team will think that you have 68 hours a day, and the stronger the desire to solve all the problems like “next-next-done”.
The following Ice Bucket Challenge: now you put all the challenges yourself. No one will elaborate on your backlog or tell you what to focus on. Operations management is tearing apart.
To delegate something, you need to find a person with the same mindset and convince him of the depth of your ideas.
Master Hyang Eom said, “A man is hanging high on a tree with his teeth on a branch. His arms and legs are tied, so he cannot grab a branch with his hands, and his feet cannot touch a tree. Another man standing under a tree asks him, “Why did Bodhidharma come to China?” If the hanging person opens his mouth to answer, he will lose his life. If he does not answer, it means that he has not fulfilled his duty and will be executed.“
Doing better is the wrong motivation
From the first few weeks, you begin to realize that you are repeating the “wrong management decisions” of your former chief.
Every business is a set of compromises and sacrifices.
Otherwise, you may end up with an unnecessary product with ideal business processes. What employees perceive as a chaotic shift in attention turns out to be tacking on an ever-changing market.
It is challenging to balance an analyst paralysis and the Dunning-Kruger effect. The first to be dismayed from the awareness of the suspected criminals. It makes it difficult to experiment outside the laboratory/test environment, preventing you from moving forward and moving at all. The Kruger effect is that ignorance is more likely to generate confidence than knowledge. The steeper our abilities, the stronger the reflection at their level, and vice versa.
Features of the national character
The mentality of the Russian leader implies the transfer of personal to the workspace. Russians cannot deal with the “at work mode” and, with a smile, discuss with the team off-limits topics.
In the daily stress of solving problems and pushing our ideas forward, we unconsciously avoid unnecessary disagreements and surround ourselves with people who agree. The big bubble of collective consent blurs the eye.
Finally, an important point that eludes many product managers is the strategic thinking of the business owner. Rarely the CEO feel it necessary to disclose all the details of his plan. That is why the company’s development contains white spots filled with guesses and speculations of employees.
Part of the strategy can be confidential or semi-finished, and the CEO is not yet fully convinced. Consider whether you can tell the team about development so that each task looks like part of a larger plan, and the project itself is ambitious but tied to the real life of people.