Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market. – Marc Andreessen
This is, of course, easier said than done. Majority of start-ups that fail build products that have either a small, or crowded or a shrinking market. However, creating the perfect product in one shot is practically impossible for a start-up. There is no standard formula. The eureka moment, where your product has a growing demand from consumers who keep coming back again and again, takes multiple iterations, a solid product-market fit test, possibly a lot of cash burn and definitely some heartburn.
Here is a list of 5 books – the best resources and highly referenced by industry experts – suitable for every entrepreneur who wants to create products that their consumers love.
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries – This book designed a hypothesis-based approach to building businesses. Ries talks about building a ‘minimum viable product’, instead of trying to build the perfect product in the first go. The book talks about testing early and many times to test the early response and how well the product solves the target customer’s problem. The split testing process, to check what different sets of customers think, is another manner to continuously evolve the product. The Lean Start-up framework proposes to rely on real user feedback loops, termed as ‘validated learnings’, to build the most suitable product -market fit. This book is essentially a guide to help start-ups succeed by minimizing wastage of time, money and efforts in building a ‘rocket ship’ which might not find a real customer once launched.
- The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank The classic book on customer development is one of the most influential books for start-up entrepreneurs. This book talks about the step-by-step strategy of building products suited for the right consumers. Written by the eight-time entrepreneur, who is a thought leader on start-ups and innovation, Steve Blank, this book explains concepts like rapid iteration, customer feedback, testing your assumptions. As Blank mentions in his book,“Customer Development diagram says that going backwards is a natural and valuable part of learning and discovery. In this new methodology, you keep cycling through each step until you achieve “escape velocity—that is, until you generate enough success to carry you out and into the next step.” Packed with concrete examples of what to do, how to do it and when to do it, the book will leave you with new skills to organize sales and marketing, along with strategies to set up your business for success.
- The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development: A cheat sheet to The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Brant Cooper & Patrick Vlaskovits This book is built on the foundational work done by Steve Blank on the ‘4 steps to the Epiphany’, the originator of the customer development framework. It provides explanations of the key concepts of customer development and lean start-up framework, using case studies of both B2C and B2B businesses. Suitable for start-up founders, as well as established companies looking to expand into new verticals, the book provides a step-by step approach along with practical worksheets and exercises which can be tested in real-world scenarios for your business. The book intends to make entrepreneurs question their core business assumptions, validate them through iterative testing with the market and build a scalable and successful business.
- Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Technology Projects to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore The journey of technology product consumers (also called the user adoption curve) has been traditionally identified as: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards. While there is a belief that the movement of business from one category of consumers to the next is organic, Geoffrey Moore calls out the gap, or the ‘Chasm’ between the Early Adopters and the Early Majority. The book elaborates on the inherent differences in the customer traits belonging to these groups – early adopters referred to as visionaries, while early majority is referred to as pragmatists, looking for standard solutions. The book is loaded with lessons and strategies to evolve your product to fit the needs of different users along the curve, and to scale successfully.
- The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback by Dan Olsen
Dan Olsen presents the Lean Startup principles in a practical manner through The Lean Product Playbook. The book explains the concept of the Product-Market fit Pyramid.
Starting from the bottom to the top, the pyramid lays out the structure for applying lean concepts. The first step is identifying the target customer, second is to figure out their underserved needs, thereafter create a value proposition, build the minimum viable product feature set and create a great UX design.
Once the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is ready, the next steps are to test the market and make changes as per feedback to finally achieve the product-market fit. The Lean Product Playbook is a practical guide suitable for start-up entrepreneurs or product managers at large organizations who are looking for clear, step-by-step advice. Since Dan works as a hands-on lean process consultant, the advice in this book is based on actual examples of companies that he has worked with to improve their product process and build great products.
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