Hi friends 👋,
Amongst startups and business strategy, a concept has become almost sacrosanct: “Product/Market Fit.”
Coined by entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, it’s the elusive state where a product satisfies a strong market demand.
But what if I told you that this concept, revered by many, is a risky way of thinking about business success?
I’m not against the intent of the phrase, but in how it can (and does) lead to focusing on the wrong thing.
For starters, even framing “Product/Market fit ” implies “I have a product, and I will find a market to fit it.”
I recently listened to a podcast where the guest talked about startups being product-led, design-led, management-led…
Where is the customer in all of this? It’s easy to get lost.
Let’s dive into why “Product/Market Fit” is not the panacea it’s often portrayed to be.
But before we do.
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Now, let’s dive in.
Here’s six broader aspects to think about around Product/Market Fit
1. It’s Misleadingly Absolute
“Fit” implies a binary state – either you’ve achieved it or you haven’t. The relationship between a product and its market is far more nuanced.
Markets are dynamic and constantly evolving, and customer needs change over time. What may have been a perfect fit today might need to be revised tomorrow.
We risk overlooking the need for ongoing adaptation and evolution by framing it as a fixed goal.
2. Ignores Customer Diversity
Every market comprises diverse customer segments with varying needs and preferences. Assuming that a single product perfectly fits all these segments is overly simplistic.
In truth, businesses often need to make trade-offs and prioritise specific segments over others. The idea of “fit” doesn’t account for these complexities.
3. Potential for Complacency
Once a company believes it has achieved Product/Market Fit, there’s a danger of complacency. The focus may shift from innovation and improvement to simply maintaining the status quo.
This can stifle creativity and hinder a company’s ability to stay ahead in a rapidly changing business landscape.
4. Overemphasis on Product
The term “Product/Market Fit” places undue emphasis on the product itself. While a great product is undoubtedly crucial, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
Factors like marketing, distribution, customer support, and pricing play equally significant roles in a business’s success. This narrow focus on the product can close our eyes to the broader aspects of building a successful business.
5. Doesn’t Encourage Long-Term Thinking
Achieving Product/Market Fit is a short-term goal. Once you reach it, what’s next?
This mindset can hinder long-term strategic thinking. Instead of focusing on “fit,” businesses should aim for sustainability and growth over time.
6. Neglects the Importance of Timing
Timing is often a critical factor in business success. A product that fails to gain traction in one market might succeed enormously when introduced at a different time or context.
“Product/Market Fit” doesn’t adequately account for this temporal dimension.
Michael Seibel, Managing Director and Group Partner at Y Combinator (touted as the best startup accelerator in the world) says “most of the YC founders never find product/market fit – ever”
⚡️ The Short of it
Product/Market Fit isn’t and should never be about fitting your product to a market.
If you have a new idea or technology start with understanding what people need, their struggles, their world.
Gain insights about a group of people and turn those insights into a solution that can help them and that they demand.
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Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next week.
Keep future-state thinking,