One of the most popular questions I encounter when working with companies across various stages is “Why did my product launch fail”, or “Why is our churn rate so high?”. It seems that even the best companies and product leaders can find success in the short term, but long term success is much more rare. Companies that have long term success generally have taken the time to answer a few but important questions. More importantly —they are in a proactive rather than reactive state when building a product or company and focus on where they want to be in the long term.
Rather than fall into a state of react and respond which oftentimes becomes the demise of most companies and businesses, I have an alternative approach which was inspired by both my own knowledge on the job as well as a book called “The Path of Least Resistance” by Robert Frisk.
1. First, understand your current reality.
Be very clear and honest about where you are today with your business and product. What are your limitations as well as your differentiators? What are the alternatives in market?
2. Second, ask yourself Why.
Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why” champions this approach. Why is the product or service that you’re building important? Why do you want to solve this pain point? These two question are the two most important questions you need to answer for your business.
I’ve generally found that when I ask this question, many founders instead answer what they’re building, rather than why they’re building it. Answering why allows you and your company to have a north star that is a visual and visceral cue that you and your company can use while working through the difficult moments. Sadly, many founding / leadership teams have no idea why they’re building what they’re building, and frankly, it shows. Other follow up questions to asking Why include: What does the product do? How does it solve the customer’s pain point?
3. Lastly, set a long-term goal.
What kind of business do want to build? What does success look like to you (user growth, revenue, creating a new market, revenue, market-maker, thought-leader, etc) in the next 5–10 years? How do your short term goals align with your long term goals?
I’ve included a visual below, which I encourage you to think about. If you fill out your starting point and your end point (your goals), you’ll be able to manifest a way to reach them. Oftentimes, people without a clear goal in mind get subjugated to the nuances of reacting and resisting to existing structural conflicts and fail to achieve their “end point”.
If you’re seriously interested in go-to-market, I recently created two new online courses: “What is Product Marketing” and “Launch Your Product. The Essential Go-To-Market Course”.
And you can check out my book Product Marketing Debunked. The Essential Go-To-Market Guide which was released on Amazon this year, and recently hit #1 New Releases on New Business Enterprise.