In the early stages, how much time do you devote to growth vs product?

Anamika Chaudhary
28 replies
We are just a 2 member team where my cofounder does all the coding and I do the design, product management and testing. I started an Insta and FB page to start getting some followers and marketing the product but I always find myself struggling to juggle between all of these different types of work items and switching contexts. Most of the time gets spent on Product itself, and barely anything on the growth. What about you all makers? How do you manage between the two and make sure you are focusing on growth as much as the product?

Replies

PM & Hunter
I'm a BIG believer in the MVP methodology, Which state to bring you product to the minimum valuable threshold that the users will use > and focus on growth! (set KPI's to the roadmap and get feedback from your community at the start of each sprint to know how to spend your dev resources)
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CEO at Gaze / Forbes 30 Under 30
@itai_handler1 How do you set KPIs when your product is very new and just launched? Like how would you understand what's achievable vs what's not?
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PM & Hunter
@gazeattaus It's solely depended on your core metrics. It's common to start with traction (let's say paying users) So, you can build super simple table with tasks and Millstones to when to start them) I checked your product! super interesting! I's love to further discuss this issue. LinkedIn me and let's set a e-meeting 😁
Data, Automation and future of work
I feel your pain. I try to work on "sprint" and focus the sprint on only one topic. I work only on the product for 2 weeks, then only on growth for 2 weeks, etc. Dev/Design/Content writing need focus and I can't do context switching by working on several tasks at the same time.
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Making blend to play board games online
@florian_poullin that sounds great, I tried, but something always comes up which was not planned and I end up working on that regardless of whether it was supposed to be growth or a product week 🙁
Ex-Archaeologist - Now aspiring Maker
Great question! Excellent points made here as well. My belief is that a product centric model is best in early stages. Get it up to MVP before you start a strong marketing plan. This is not to say growth is not important but rather that the product is ultimately what will create sustained growth. If the product is not up to the level it needs to be, no matter how you sell it, your traction will be low. Good product = good but slow growth (the opposite is obviously true). However, good product + good marketing = excellent fast growth. If you can balance the product quality with the marketing as you gain traction then (I feel) you will be able to manage a steady growth and customer retention levels.
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Making blend to play board games online
@alex_gorman thanks for sharing this. Totally agree with you and that's what we are trying to do as well.. spending most of our time for now on the product.
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Your Product & Growth Partner
I strongly believe in product led growth. Focus entirely on product first and then looking at growth a week before release.
Making blend to play board games online
@ranvijay_singh you mean before launching the product? But how do you manage it after launching it? Even then, you need to focus on the product and the growth right.
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Your Product & Growth Partner
@anamika_chaudhary2 It's true one needs to focus on product and the growth even after launch. But the point is, if a product actually solves a problem and that problem has frequent occurrence rate, working more on product than growth will ultimately serve the purpose. See in this case, 1. Your product is adding value 2. It has higher chances of frequent use 3. Connect those frequent users to meet and discuss (create a community around it inside product, chance of leveraging network effect) 4. Offer those connections/communities/groups some exclusivity, resources and privileges (premium- revenue add on) 5. Add more factors to your KPIs, you may end up finding new sets of features to retain existing and onboard new users. Retention and customer satisfaction are biggest growth hacks.
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I think just spend your time where it is needed most. In the VERY beginning, product first. Create design prototypes put it in front of users and iterate over and over again. Don't add new features, just iterate on your MVP. Once you start to get the design's stable after a handful of feedback sessions (I did 15-20), hand it off for your cofounder to build the MVP and focus on sales and marketing for a bit. Afterwards it's just a matter of deciding what needs more attention at the time. Sales & Marketing = new users. Product = user retention. The gap between them is growth and increasing user retention is often easier (and more enjoyable imo).
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Making blend to play board games online
@sani_djaya totally agree, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Founder Lumacart. Carnegie Mellon grad.
@sani_djaya Very well said, but I'll like to add something to it. No new features should be added to the front-end but the back-end should definitely have some new features added while you iterate.
Erasmus Joint PhD Fellow
Instead of growing via social media, I'd instead recommend spending time engaging in Partnerships with other companies of your size that offer complementary services. Or if it has to be growth via social media, collaborations are a good start...
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Engineering
Personally (being a one person team), I normally focus on growth vs product in alternating phases of 2-4 weeks so I can keep focus. My cadence looks like this: - Product: four or so weeks - Growth via Marketing: one week Alternatively, you could have a sprint based approach and prioritizing "Growth" and "Product" tickets in each sprint however, for a small team, I think this adds overhead. Time is gold, this approach works for bigger teams that need management. But then again, every team and product is different. Experiment and see.
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Engineering
and to be clear, KPIs are important - of course. In my case, I set them on a quarterly basis.
CMO at Swash
We started Swash as a technical experiment, so built our MVP and gained 1200+ Beta users almost instantly after launch and with very little effort. I think having the product there and available to use has been invaluable for us, especially as it means you get feedback from the community and can develop deeper relationships with those original supporters (who, when they love the product and support the idea, tend to support with marketing even more by spreading the word!). I say get that MVP out there and don't be shy. It's better (and easier) to promote a real product than an idea because people like having something to test and play with, especially when they know that their feedback and voices will be heard :) Good luck!
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Making blend to play board games online
@chloe_diamond that's totally true, we are seeing growth happening through word of mouth without doing much marketing too. But now I have started to divide my time between growth and product in order to keep getting more users.
Community & branding enthusiast
I agree that product is the priority, but the point is that growth hacking tactics better work if they are added to the product itself - like a referral system, QR codes, and other hacks that can be used to attack first customers. So, don't forget to ingenire the virality into the project from the early beginning.
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Making blend to play board games online
@olha_trykush Thanks for sharing that. Completely agree with you that if we can users themselves our marketeers, the job would become much easier for us! :)
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Web Designer/Publisher
@anamika_chaudhary2 Going through the same situation you are (cofounder does all the coding and I do the design). I am more focused on the Product itself. When the product is desirable and does what your customer wants and/or needs, your customer becomes the salesperson for you! With a great product, you will have more people support it. Think about the popular game now to play in this Pandemic: Among Us Before, no one heard about it. The product is great and is ageless. Now, it EXPLODED. They canceled the sequel and starting to work on the product itself to make it better. Make a product so good that you removed all the things to make it perfect, yet can still be scalable in the future.
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Making blend to play board games online
@jessehojjensen that's just chance though right. We can't wait for a situation for the growth to happen on its own. This growth was just luck for among us, along with a great product. But in most cases, we have to grow the product at the same time when we are building it.
Project Management Specialist
There might just be the two of you, but you should get a project management tool. Because you're a small team, there are some free options available to you. Having PM software will help you break down what you need to do and start prioritising effectively. Having one early will also mean that when you scale, you'll avoid the hassle of porting your files, tasks, plans, ideas, over to the new service. In terms of product of growth vs product, consider how much capital you have. How much time you can afford to spend on pure product dev before you need to startproducing revenue is an important matter to consider. If you have ample funds, then produce an MVP and interate with feedback from alpha testers, until you are happy to commit immensely to growing. If you spent the time before your beta, you'll get more useful feedback when you launch, and you might have a higher rention of those willing to wait for their feedback to be implemented. If not, then MVP, push, next iteration, push, repeat.
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Making blend to play board games online
@arseniyw we started using airtable but most of the times we just change tasks based on user feedback so whatever we planned earlier never remains the same. We keep getting into this problem and end up not using our to do board much. The only problem with growth for us right now is we don't have funds to go for paid, fees marketing I feel needs a lot of time and effort to think of creative ideas and then implement them. That's where time goes and then we find ourselves stuck in the problem time for product vs growth!
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Project Management Specialist
@anamika_chaudhary2 if you need more responsivity, try using an agile methodology, I think this might be able to help with pushing you towards your overarching goal, whilst giving you the flexibility to adjust your product as customer feedback is received. You also have a plethora of platforms that could help give you structure when implementing it, Trello, WEEEK, Asana, and an aweful lot more.
founder of mean-bean
same query! I'm a solo founder, working on a hardware product, and community is insanely important to us. Both building product (hardware, software) and running tests to understand how to honestly address an audience in order to build a community around our pain points is very difficult. any advice is welcome!
CEO of Entre
IMO at the early stages it should mostly be about product.. bc growth is pointless if the product sucks!
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Busy creating a better tomorrow
I just wanted to add my two cents here - there’s a great amount of advice but I feel one thing was not mentioned nearly enough. I agree a product may underpin your company, and of course, everybody loves a great product. But one thing I hear a lot and have experienced myself is that a great product does not equal user growth. Just because you created the best product ever, does not mean you will grow and be successful. This was lightly alluded to in some of the MVP responses when mentioning first users and building upon feedback, but I felt it may be worth underscoring this as I feel the responses could be misinterpreted as “I won’t add features but I will continuously improve the ones I have until they are perfect before trying to get people to use it” which is basically the same as trying to build the best product ever and expecting it to grow exponentially just because you built it. Make sure people use it and play with it so you can improve the product but also hopefully gain an initial (paying) following. An MVP is the way to do that!