Product Builder. Run product / community for tech companies. About https://whizzoe.com
Note: This article is part of my toolkit newsletters↗️ where I share resources about building things. Join me :)
I’m working full-time building things, whether it’s building for companies where I’m hired to solve problems using product thinking; building startup templates at Product2kit and my own MVP, or guiding makers to build products.
After building and launching multiple products, I have decided to share 7 product habits that have helped me to quickly turn problems into products.
For context: I use the term ‘product builder’ to refer to professionals who are involved in building and launching technology products such as product founders, makers, managers, designers, and developers.
When it comes to finding product ideas to build, it’s important to think about the problems to solve and not finding the next big fancy ideas. As Michael Seibel (partner at Y Combinator) said in an interview:
“Work on a problem you have personal experiences with.”
“I see people go down this trap: I’m gonna work on something that is someone else’s problem, I’m gonna come up with fake insights in my head based on very little experience. And then they realize the problem is harder and then they pivot.”
“When you work on something you don’t know, you often find yourself under this question of — Should a product exist at all?”
When you solve your own problem:
Products that I’ve built to solve my own problem
Whenever I receive Zoom calls from makers for 1:1 Product Session, I often get these “don’t start with” questions. And my answers:
Don’t start with
Do start with
“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology” — Steve Jobs
This approach is about prioritizing user needs as the starting point and then working backward to deliver the technical solutions (i.e. app features and functionalities) to the problem your users have.
Once you understand your users, the use case, you can start to find the right tools and technology stack to build the app functionalities. As a result, you are more likely to building something that people want.
So, what app features should I build? Should I focus on building for Group X or Group Y? Do people care about this offering? Remember: We don’t know the answers until we talk to users and ask.
Here’s when the customer discovery and research process comes in. Reach out to your target persona and ask them how do they go through their day; their workflow; preferred way to solve this problem, challenges, and frustrations.
Don’t talk without a plan
Avoid falling into this trap: “Let me build as many app features as possible.” Effective product builders create something that people want, therefore, they prioritize building things that help to solve real pain points of the users.
How to prioritize?
Let’s talk about building products. Instead of chasing the next trendy tool, a new programming language or framework — try to hack together a prototype or MVP using off-the-shelf solutions.
How to be hacky?
How far can you build with no-code? I recently shared in this Tweet:
How to stay consistent in building products? When I first started building products, I made a habit to track my side projects and showcase my work publicly.
It creates self-accountability to ship consistently and helps me stay motivated. It’s also a great way to document your learning so when you look back on how you started, you’re able to appreciate your journey.
How to start tracking your projects?
Create a potential user base EVEN before you launch your product, marketing campaign, or a company you will start in the future. This habit can maximize your go-to-market strategy for your current and future projects.
It’s more costly to acquire customers from scratch than to market to an existing audience that you’ve built close relationships with.
Having an audience also allows you to source ideas, run user research, asking for feedback, and finding user behavior patterns through discussions.
Here’s what I do: I’m growing Twitter (4,990+ followers) by sharing my resources, writing articles on Medium (940+ followers), distributing content through Substack (1,900 email subscribers), LinkedIn, and publications.
How to start building an audience?
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