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9 Essential Product Management Tips for Startups: Should you hire a Product Manager?

13 Feb, 2024

With the advancement in digital transformation of businesses across the globe, both digital products and product managers have become the need of the hour. To create products that are tailored for a specific group of users and steer the company’s graph towards sales and profit.

Long story short, product managers are a great asset for any developing or developed brand.

So if you are a newly hired product manager at a startup or are a new startup owner then this list of 9 Essential Product Management Tips for Startups is just the thing for you.

In a rush? Here is a table of contents at your service. Skip away to your desired sections:

9 Essential Product Management Tips for Startups: Should you hire a Product Manager?

9 Best Product Management Tips 2024

What does it take to be a successful Product Manager?

Should startups hire Product Managers?

Conclusion

FAQs

Product managers are responsible for developing a bullet-proof management plan beginning from the conception of the idea to the end of the product life cycle, along with processing other possible hurdles that they might encounter along the way.

A well-devised product management strategy will define the company’s goal and their products’ market objectives. It will also include aspects of research, technical expertise, development, and marketing.

Now that we have the basic bits of successful product management in mind, let’s dive straight into the best product management tips and strategies.

Product Management Tips Infographic
Infographic illustrating essential product management tips.

9 Best Product Management Tips 2024

Product management is a dynamic field that tests various hard and soft skills. The following tips cover the foundational knowledge that every Product Manager should be equipped with to safely navigate the complex landscape of the product management lifecycle.

Be the Champion of your Craft (Product Knowledge)

Starting from the very basics, you must equip yourself with the ins and outs of your product and company. Focus on the simplest of concepts to grasp the abstract idea of your digital product.

What? Why? How? Leave no questions unanswered. If you don’t know, just ask.

Product development can turn out to be an extremely complex process that varies from industry to industry. So it is only sensible to get to know your team well enough, along with the entire workflow and product development process.

This is the most basic yet crucial product management tip. While you are at it, you should also take notes on the areas that need your attention as a product manager.

Know your playground (Market Research)

Now that you are well aware of the specifics, you can look at the broader external picture: Customers and Competitors.

Identify the needs and pain points of your end users and work towards building a digital product that caters to their needs.

For that very purpose, you need to conduct extensive market and customer research. Always keep an eye on your competitors to keep track of technical updates and industry trends.

Research data and analytics play a very vital role in the success of your digital business.

➡️Given that your startup is at a very early stage, you will be able to pioneer the entire process. But if it has been a while, then you should have enough data collected from your product discovery stage.

All the valuable insights you collect can be super helpful in product differentiation, helping you crack the saturated market.

Customer is the King

All PMs must adapt a customer-centric approach to specifically benefit their target audience. You need to understand the ideal user type even before you start making the product footprint.

And how will you do that?

By simply conducting interviews and surveys, looking into existing databases (user demographics), or getting inspired (not stealing) from your competitors.

Understand the right balance between company objectives and user requirements.

Locate the areas of improvement for your customer base and work towards bridging them with your product development strategy.

➡️This would also mean retiring features and changing the roadmap.

Even if the PM and team love a feature (because they spent countless hours developing it), it has got to go if the user demographic states so.

Building a Bulletproof Product Roadmap

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

A product roadmap is a structured development of the product life cycle. This takes into account all the KPIs, business strategy, product development, launch and marketing, and the aftermath.

You need to form a well-structured business strategy from product ideation until the product’s market release.

If you are having problems getting started, definitely check out some of the established frameworks. Get inspired and alter your personal product roadmap according to your requirements.

The principle you should follow throughout is to “prioritize strategically.” Consider all the following things for your product roadmap:

  • Significant milestones
  • Competitive analysis
  • User demographic
  • Team’s perspective (product development, marketing, design team, etc.)
  • Company’s objective
  • And of course, Company’s budget

Look for possible loopholes in your roadmap and cast them aside before they become a real problem. You can always make changes along the way if you think that’s for the best.

Interview your Users and Interact with your Team.

Honestly speaking, once PMs reach the high ground, they refrain from coming into contact with the roots, aka the customers.

You will get nowhere if you don’t know the people you are serving and working with.

Prepare the interview questions yourself, sit through calls, assess some feedback forms, talk to some loyal customers. Closely watching user behaviors and minor analytics will help you develop the proper insights necessary for decision-making.

Secondly, you are the glue that will hold your team together, and with so many things going on simultaneously, there will surely be disagreements. And to solve them, you should be familiar with each one of your team members.

For better interaction, run surveys within your teams and have regular roundtable discussions.

This entire process of engagement is now much smoother thanks to digitalization.

Take Data-driven Steps

Product development is a game that heavily relies on metrics, analytics, and research data, but definitely not on assumptions.

This data can be collected in various ways, such as through market research, customer feedback, in-app surveys, competitive analysis, and others.

All PMs should refer to these KPIs and other metrics to make a well-informed decision.

As the captain of the ship, PMs should not be afraid of taking big and bold decisions if the data is in their favor. Authentic product analytics combined with AI and automation will reap the best results.

Don’t rely on old success models; rather, focus on factual data to strengthen your core product development strategies.

Master your Communication Skills

Communication is an integral part of any job description, but it is truly significant for a product manager at any stage.

PMs have to precisely describe the product roadmap to the team, define marketing objectives, negotiate profusely, deal smartly with stakeholders, get customer feedback, and above all, affirm seamless collaboration across all teams.

It is a very integral part of the entire product development and management cycle.

So it goes without saying that communication is a soft skill you should be flawless at.

Leaving aside the corporate prominence, effective communication also helps build deep, understanding relationships with your teammates.

Note: Master written communication because it is just as important as oral communication. Writing is an integral part of explaining and expressing yourself throughout the product management process.

Learn that skill if needed.

A product manager should be a jack of all trades and master of many.

Even though PMs don’t directly work on every aspect of product development, they definitely have to supervise it. And it will only become fluent if you are familiar with the ground rules.

It is all the more prominent at a startup, as you need to be on your toes at all times.

It can be technical writing, coding, web development, UX research, or even storytelling, for that matter.

Not all product managers are equipped with coding knowledge, and it is not necessary. But it sure won’t hurt to have a foundational understanding of the subject. It will only help you connect better with your team and your product.

Plus, an additional skill on the resume always looks good.

Always keep Improving.

Lastly, upskilling should never go off your to-do list.

Product management does not end with the product development part. You need to constantly improve the product’s features, follow market trends, learn from competitors, seek inspiration, and so on.

That is why your startup and digital product will have to continuously strive to become better with each passing day.

In addition to the digital product, it’s essential to provide your team with opportunities for personal and professional growth.

What does it take to be a successful Product Manager?

Product Manager Skills Infographic
Infographic showcasing the skills of a product manager.

Product development, forging a product roadmap, designing and launching MVPs, broad-scale market research, collecting user feedback, frequent collaborations, considering product usage analytics, and countless others are the roles of a PM.

So to tackle them, a successful product manager will have multiple feathers added to their cap.

Their skill set is vast and will go beyond the ones mentioned in our list of essential product management practices.

Along with a strategic mindset and adaptability, a successful PM is in love with innovation. You should also be good at multitasking, as PMs have to regularly juggle between design, development, and marketing teams.

Product managers need to have strong traits of empathy and leadership. You need to know how feedback can be constructive or how questions can simplify the process.

Successful product managers distinguish themselves by applying key product management tips, skillfully navigating their product to market success.

Besides technical expertise, efficient communication, active listening, and robust negotiation skills are also paramount.

Here are a few other must-have product manager skills worth mentioning:

  • Critical thinking
  • Data Analysis
  • Problem-solving mentality
  • Storytelling
  • Strategic planning
  • Future-Oriented professional

No matter how many articles you read or courses you take, you will only be able to tackle the real problems with real experience.

Should startups hire Product Managers?

Hiring a Product Manager in Startups
Illustration discussing the importance of hiring a product manager in startups.

Coming to the controversial question.

In my opinion, yes! Startups should hire product managers.

You need a committed individual who can be trusted to handle various departments in a fast-paced environment.

You also cannot ignore the fact that in startups there are limited resources, little research and data, and a wide range of responsibilities, and under this gigantic load of pressure there is almost no room for error.

Needless to say, without a well-structured product management plan, it would become almost impossible to crack the saturated market and establish your business.

Given that you are a startup, prototyping and testing new strategies can be overwhelming.

After a successful product launch, continuous discovery will and should follow to stay in the game.

And you’ve got to do all this while making your stakeholders happy, aka stakeholder management.

Guess whose job profile perfectly fits the role: an experienced Product Manager.

PMs are versatile, and they know how to ace the game.

TL;DR: Startup product management is tough, and a professional product manager will make it all much easier for you.

Conclusion

Being a product manager at a startup is far more challenging than being one at a mid-sized or large company.

With multiple tasks and limited resources, it’s vital to employ a well-organized strategy and play smartly. As you navigate the challenges of product development at a startup, incorporating these expert product management tips can help drive assured results.

Not all companies require 24-hour marketing management or definitive coding advice, some might just flourish with extra help in research or strategic collaboration. So, communicate and find your landscape, that way, you and your team will be productive while delivering maximum output.

I hope you find these product management tips to be of great help. And if you are looking for a professional product development and management team, then Pragmatyc has always got your back.

FAQs

What are the major P’s of product management?

Product, Place, Price, Promotion, and People are considered as the five major P’s of product management. These elements guide your roadmap and contribute to a successful product management lifecycle.

How can startups benefit from effective product management?

Product management establishes a streamlined workflow in startups, ensuring collaborative efforts towards success. It promotes a customer-centric approach, helps identify opportunities and market trends, and assists with decision-making, all while maximizing ROI.

What is the importance of user feedback in product management?

The response/feedback of your digital product’s end consumer carries significant weight. It defines the potential of a new feature or the need to remove an existing one. User feedback serves as a crucial validation tool for refining and optimizing your product, contributing to the development of the best product management strategy.

How to get a job as a product manager at a startup?

The road to becoming a successful product manager is a long one, but starting off is not that tough. Learn the basics, obtain relevant certifications, build a strong portfolio or resume, gain some real-world experience, and network, and that should be enough to secure a role in startup product management.

What are the major principles of startup product development?

Basic principles: build the product, analyze the data, and keep enhancing. Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) should precisely address user problems so that you can keep refining your product development strategy.

Written by Yogesh Dhumane

Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer

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