If you spend some time pouring over business and entrepreneurship content, you’ll realize that most of what you read is garbage. Most articles are manufactured copy, and most books are ghostwritten nonsense.
I am far from finding the best stuff and it is going to take more reading, mentor hunting, and outright work to get to where I want to be.
With that being said, I know when I come across something valuable. It is usually stuff that just makes sense and is easy to apply, observe, and repeat.
The Pmarca Guide to Startups is filled with great information. The information wasn’t written exactly for me since I am not a tech startup but any information of quality can be retooled for any application.
The one article everyone should read is The Only Thing That Matters by Marc Andreessen because of one simple idea: product/market fit.
A product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market. It is the basics of all basic things for a business. – Marc Andreessen
A lot of businesses, even major corporations, do not understand this idea. Some try to (unsuccessfully) manufacture a market but often there is none. After the novelty wears off, the company succumbs to the fact that no one wants or needs their product. There is no product/market fit. According to Andreessen, you can usually feel when this happens.
You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening. The customers aren’t quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn’t spreading, usage isn’t growing that fast, press reviews are kind of “blah”, the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.
Basically, if you aren’t making money, then you have failed to achieve product/market fit. Too many companies believe in their vision and look to exploit other functions to produce sales. Things like quality, marketing, disruption, and just plain persistence.
Read more: Why Quality is Important
But again, none of it matters unless the product fits the market. The amazing thing is that you’ll once again notice when this is happening.
And you can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it — or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. You’re hiring sales and customer support staff as fast as you can. Reporters are calling because they’ve heard about your hot new thing and they want to talk to you about it. You start getting entrepreneur of the year awards from Harvard Business School. Investment bankers are staking out your house. You could eat free for a year at Buck’s.
HOW TO FIND A FIT
Motivational speaker and self-development author Brian Tracy notes three questions you can ask to help with your product (and marketing in general):
1. Does a Market exist? Are there people willing to buy your product or service. With new products, this question is very important. If there is a market, will your product or service be able to compete with the existing companies? Are the companies well-established brands that dominate the market? If so, how will you disrupt this market?
2. What is the size of the Market? Is there enough of a market for you to make a profit? That is the bottom line. There may be a market of 100,000, but it is spread in 10,000 increments across 10 different cities. Your target market just shrunk to 10,000 and is probably not enough to make a profit.
3. Is the Market concentrated? Out of that 10,000, there are already five companies that are competing for a share. Now your market is even smaller and your cost per acquisition increases. The amount of money you will have to spend to get a customer is high due to the competition and size of the available market. Also, people don’t like change, so unless they are deeply unsatisfied with what is already offered, they won’t venture out of the norm.
MJ DeMarco’s unconventional thoughts on wealth and business add valuable points about what is required of a business to be successful. The post for his book, The Millionaire Fastlane, on the Outwork Book Club is here.
He says, make one million people achieve any of the following:
1. Make them feel better.
2. Help them solve a problem.
3. Educate them.
4. Make them look better (health, nutrition, clothing, makeup)
5. Give them security (housing, safety, health)
6. Raise a positive emotion (love, happiness, laughter, self-confidence)
7. Satisfy appetites, from basic (food) to the risque (sexual)
8. Make things easier.
9. Enhance their dreams and give hope.
PS- The marketing book I mentioned by Brian Tracy can be purchased here. It’s small, cheap and packed full of useful advice.
The Pmarca Guide to Startups can be found here.