To entrepreneurs: How to correctly break out your "ambition"?

Ambition is a good thing. As an entrepreneur, you must have "ambition", because this is the only difference between you and ordinary people. If you don't even have a strong ambition, it is definitely not suitable for entrepreneurship. But the misunderstanding also exists objectively and has to be pointed out.


Products should come first, and platformization is the last thing

Many years ago, I also wrote programs. I know some technical experts. People don't care whether white people can use my stuff or not. They just care whether others think my stuff is cool or not. What they pursue is to write this function with the least code and the most cool method. As for whether the function itself can help others solve problems, I don't care at all, because it is the responsibility of the product manager. My brain should be used in more meaningful places, such as to research new and better technologies.

If the founder does not understand the technology and only pursues the skill of the technical director, it is easy to find some "pure" engineers. The problem is that most users do not know what technology is, and it is not important to them. After writing programs for decades, Paul Graham put forward a profound insight: "Don't develop smart things, but develop what people want."

In the past decade, technology has developed rapidly, and a large number of open codes and tools can help engineers design powerful programs. But for a long time, people often want to design smart things, but it is not easy to focus on developing what users want. Now it is a product centered world. Users do not care whether the program of a certain product is written in C or other languages. They only care about fast running, clear interface and intuitive operation.

To build the best product, you must know who the users are. It is very important to always pay attention to and meet the needs of users. Why? Because people's tastes and popular things are fast changing and competitive, it is impossible to create products that can keep up with users' pace unless they carefully understand their changes, growth and development direction.

At this time, some people will be confused - in the end, there should be content first, then platform; Is there a platform first, and then find the content? This is like taking orders after the production line equipment is ready; It's better to receive the order first and then deal with these equipment. In fact, the answer is very simple - no company will build a factory before it knows what products it wants to produce. No customer will place a valuable order with you before they know what plasters you are selling in the gourd. Therefore, the key is to find the product that can help customers solve problems first, and it is better to be a pain point. Then orders and production lines are just a matter of time.

That is to say, the platform should be built after the killer application. Just imagine: if it were not for the existences of such urgent problems as taxi failure and refusal, taxi apps would not become popular quickly; If it were not for the breakthrough in the interactive experience of the Internet, the iPhone would not be hot in the market. Platformization is the next thing. Although the platform dream is good, it is useless without the first batch of users brought by killer applications.

In order to create killer applications, you must come up with good product functions, develop them quickly, test with a small number of users, and collect data. Then, if a new feature increases a key metric (such as the frequency, time, or cost of people using it), you can provide this feature to all users. If a function of the product is not good after improvement, it must be adjusted or deleted.

Data will not lie, and there is not much room for error in this process, unless you are not good at doing this:

Think of product improvement methods that can be tested;

Clarify how to evaluate the effectiveness of product improvement;

It is judged that the relevant data of the product function in hand will increase or decrease the core indicators.

What kind of people do early teams need?

The transformation to the Internet field will be full of fear and imagination of the unknown, and will hope to have a dream team. In the ideal world, you can really hire these people at an early stage, but I'm afraid that in reality, hehe. So we can only take a look at the ideal team structure and confirm that the direction of progress is correct. At this time, we'd better go deep into who can provide the answers to the following three key questions:

  1. What products are you developing?
  2. Does the product solve the real problem?
  3. Who are we solving the problem for (target users)?

It is unlikely that there will be more than one person in charge of the product in the team (ideally, there will also be an excellent designer, that is, two people in total) before the product meeting the market demand has been polished. Only when the product is on track does it need to expand the size of the product team. Taxi products are relatively complex: they are composed of passengers and drivers, and the two applications must be operated simultaneously to reach the stage where the products meet the market demand, so the amount of development required is relatively large. If the application is not complicated, then only one product manager is needed. The rest of the money should be spent on hiring engineers to develop better technology for the company. The bottleneck encountered in this period is usually not the lack of ideas about product functions (yes, there are often too many ideas), but how to quickly let users use all product functions.

During the development process, other problems usually arise, such as: How does the application look? How does this application work The design team (usually part of the product team) is responsible for answering these questions. Maybe you really only have the budget to hire a designer (sometimes part-time), but in order to provide killer products, you must work more closely with the designer.

In fact, all product personnel are answering the question of "what to develop". Some teams are divided into product manager, designer, user experience specialist and other positions, which is really boring and meaningless for early teams. In fact, the whole team should work together and cooperate closely. Everyone's expertise is indeed different, but in the end, everyone is the user of the application, and many fields overlap. Therefore, we should encourage everyone to focus on the entire product experience, rather than just a single part of their own.

In general, team members include:

1 person: the founder leads the product vision and management;

2-3 people: ideally, another founder is an engineer. After angel funds are available, at least another engineer (or two) should be recruited;

1 person: You may not be able to hire an excellent full-time designer, but you should be able to communicate at least once a week;

1 person: At this time, it is probably impossible to hire a full-time QA personnel. In fact, the task of confirming that the application operation is unimpeded falls on the product department with only one person.

To sum up, there are five or six team members. If the application is more complex, a larger team needs to be established. Full time designers, iOS engineers, Android engineers, several back-end engineers, and several outsourcing personnel are needed to support the development. Finally, a QA person is needed, so the team members are about ten to twelve.

Agile development and co location development

When people are available, they will generally adopt the agile development model for specific work. Agile development refers to providing valuable functions or improvements for a fixed short period of time, usually lasting for one or two weeks. The goal is to provide something valuable (a specific function) for users to use from scratch. Why is it so popular? Because new functions or improvements can be provided for users every two weeks, it means that users can test new functions every two weeks, so that you can evaluate whether to retain this function.

Agile team is defined as a group of people who are completely independent, adopt, implement, test, configure a product function, and finally let users use it. This concept is very good. If the team is small, the operation will be effective. It is important here that team members should be in the same place, especially for small teams with only a few members such as product/design/development. The reasons are as follows:

Let's start from the ideal situation. As mentioned above, the real goal of organizing (currently small-scale) product development teams is to enable them to quickly launch new versions of applications. This depends on effective communication, and the process is not easy. In order to "launch new features" frequently, we should continue to improve the code, provide feedback after users use it, and then see whether the application has become better. You must pursue efficiency at every possible level. In other words, the entire product/design/development/quality control team should be in the same place and ready for call. If one or more of the members work in a remote place, the communication effect will be poor, and there will be no chance for everyone to communicate face to face in the same room, nor can they communicate privately at any time. At present, your team is too small to work independently. However, if your application grows at a crazy speed in the future, communication is absolutely still the key. Therefore, the communication culture you have established now will be fruitful in the future.


Promotion strategy: find competitive products first

Developing applications is only the first step in the long march, and more importantly, how to let users use them. Basically, the answer of inexperienced people is the same: "We will use all kinds of methods to promote." It's the same as saying nothing. Every entrepreneur makes great efforts to promote their applications, but only a few of them can really obtain a large number of active users in the market. Therefore, it is only a basic work (or vision) to make great efforts to promote, but not a winning strategy.

In addition to having a vision, there should also be a pragmatic and step-by-step market strategy. The first thing you should think about is: Who is the competitor?

Take an app as an example. If I said what is the biggest competitor, I would say it is the game industry. This is not a joke, because the first prerequisite for an application to be listed in the Red Sea is to be found. What is the value of an application that users cannot find? But when the game has occupied the list of all kinds of application markets, you have no chance to even make the most basic appearance. For another example, suppose you make an alarm clock and think about putting it in the category of life. But when you put the alarm clock in the category of life taste, you will find out what kind of houses are rented and QR codes are in this category. Then these are your competitors. Therefore, in terms of exposure, competitors are not products with similar functions, but products in the same category that can occupy users' time.

If we want to have a network effect on all users, it is probably difficult for large companies to do so. However, if we first target a small group of thousands or tens of thousands of people, and then gradually expand, small teams can also do it, which is one of the strategies most successful companies initially use. Facebook became popular on campus and Zhihu started to develop from the Internet/media circle. Now comes the question: which small circle can get the most value from your first product? Where can these users be extended after accumulation?

How to get users, many people will immediately think of social media. Social media is the atomic bomb of the poor, but it should be noted that playing with communities is very energy and money consuming. The atomic bomb is called because the interaction between people is diffusive. Once you hit the right angle, the subsequent fermentation will exceed expectations. So before launching the product, first ask yourself whether the release and operation of various media are ready.

In addition, as an entrepreneur, survival is everything. After going online, entrepreneurs should make amendments to the products as soon as possible according to the market feedback. They should do whatever the market likes. They should put aside all principles and welcome the market.

Finally, if entrepreneurs are doing products that require a large number of users to settle in a short period of time, they can't wait for the community to slowly ferment. They can only use advertisements to obtain users in large numbers and accurately. However, "how to accurately obtain a large number of users" is also a profound skill, which also requires a large amount of budget. If there is no tuition to pay, it is recommended to work in the relevant departments of large companies for a few years before starting a business, or find a partner who can solve this problem directly.

Many times, our products that have been developed for a long time are stuck because the market is ungrateful, but small products that we think are unlikely to be popular may shine brightly in the market. When your products are salvaged in the red sea of the Internet, the next step is to think about how this application will help users. If there is no solid foundation, It is not the product optimization or the product pattern is large enough for the market to accept. Think clearly, success or failure depends on the day, and be worthy of heart.

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