Entrepreneurs often ask themselves “Is my product meh?” out of a fear of making a fool of themselves. Here are some objectives questions to ask yourself to get a more balanced perspective on your situation.
What to Do When You Are Asking Yourself, “Is My Product Meh?”
Q: We launched our product late last year and just were hunted by a famous Angel onto Product Hunt. We’ve been hitting some good milestones lately–first thousand sign ups, first few thousand bucks of conversions–but sometimes it feels like whether or not you succeed on Product Hunt is a make it or break it moment for so many.
I am struggling with with the worry that if this doesn’t go well, is my product meh? Any suggestions to how to manage.
A: My experiences has been that there are no “make or break” moments. There is no such thing as overnight successes. Here are three short suggestions and a longer set of questions to ask yourself when you are starting to feel like a fool .
- Don’t embrace anxiety by focusing inwardly on success. Embrace humility and service: talk to your customers and understand why they value your product. Fix what’s broken and add what they are willing to pay for.
- Read “So Good They Can’t Ignore” by Cal Newport and invest in creating more value for customers and reducing barriers to adoption for prospects.
- Follow Octavia Butler’s advice and “cultivate habits that enable persistence and learning.”
Questions to Ask When You Are Starting to Feel Like a Fool
Entrepreneurs often ask “Am I making a fool of myself?” Here are questions to clarify your situation when you are starting to feel like a fool. You can also ask your team and advisors to answer individually and then compare notes together.
- What are your strengths?
- How do they help differentiate the product or service you are developing?
- What rare or unique experience do you bring?
- How does this help your team understand the problem or customer needs?
If you are thinking about changing direction: how will this new product or market benefit from your strengths and experience?
- What trends are at work you can take advantage of?
- What recent changes have unlocked new opportunities or placed incumbents at a disadvantage?
If not now: what would need to change to make the situation more congruent with your current approach?
What Have You Learned
- How has your product changed since you started?
- How has your understanding of market requirements or customer needs changed since you started?
- Why hypotheses about the product or the market have you proven false?
- How has your description of the problem changed since you started?
- How has your description of the product changed since you started?
If you are thinking of changing direction: what are the significant unknowns you need to explore to demonstrate this is a better approach than your current one?
What Unique Assets Have You Accumulated?
- If you are really exploring new territory then there is always value in making your own map. If you can find reliable maps, that is one indication it’s not that new territory. The best place to explore is probably two or three steps off the current maps. Not so far off the beaten path that prospects cannot understand your offer, but different enough to provide some unique value for at least a niche.
- What are the facts? What proof to do you have for the need for and the value of your product? What have you directly observed that provides substantiation? Whom have you spoken to that provides support for your hypothesis?
- Have you met people who are interested in seeing your solution to a problem they have? Have you built relationships with potential customers that are strong enough that they are sharing key information about their needs and situation with you?
If you are thinking of changing direction: how will this new approach still leverage or build on what you have accomplished
What’s Not Working That is Making You Feel Foolish?
- Are you feeling stalled because you are trying the same things over and over or because you cannot think of new things to try? If it’s the former try tinkering with your approach. If it’s the latter ask for help from other people who have some perspective on the problem or potential market.
- Are you feeling stupid because you see a clear need but cannot figure out how to solve it? Try and solve a simpler problem that at least some of your target customers have that would be part of a larger solution. Or look farther afield at how other disciplines and industries solve similar problems, maybe you can find something that rhymes.
- After adjusting for the normal variation of the entrepreneurial roller coaster ride, is team morale intact? Whether you want to call is morale or gumption or grit, the shared commitment to collaborating on a solution to a real problem is probably the critical resource for a startup team.