Entrepreneurs get stuck in a chicken-or-egg cycle when it comes to product building vs. company building. Which one comes first?
A lot of well-meaning advice centers around building a company before you have a product. But consider that in order for your company to thrive, it needs to have some form of income. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to pay your team what they’re worth. They won’t have any confidence or direction on what they’re doing.
Plus, it could take weeks, months, or even years before your product is ready for market. That’s a long time to sustain a company financially without anything to sell.
It’s great to have a vision for the problems you want to solve, the opportunities you’ve found in your market, and where you want to take your business. But ultimately, you need a product to make your business work for you.
Here’s why product building comes first and what to prioritize in the process.
Product Building Isn’t Just Coding and Design
The word “product” doesn’t just refer to the technical and visual side of things. Rather, a product is a total package: the problem(s) it solves, the people using it, the value it provides, the pain it alleviates — the reason it exists.
Entrepreneurs need clarity on all of the above to create a successful product, which will become the foundation for a successful company.
The 3 Things that Should Lead Your Product Development
Perhaps a bit ironically, you start building your company while you’re building your product. You need people to turn your vision into reality, and those people help to shape your company culture, your brand, and your product’s success.
With this in mind, these three things should guide your product building efforts to ensure bigger wins and smaller losses early in the process:
Build the Right Product Before You Build the Product Right
It’s not a matter of asking whether a product can be built. It’s more important to consider whether it’s really needed. Don’t get hung up on specific features and functions too early. Instead, focus on whether you’re creating something the market actually needs, then work outwards.
Define Your Unique Selling Proposition
What makes your product desirable? How does it stack up against similar offerings on the market? Most importantly, why will people choose you vs. another product that fills the same need? To understand your unique selling proposition, look at the gaps left behind by other solutions (if there are any) and aim to do it better.
Consider Your Strategy
After product building comes product marketing and selling, but don’t wait until you have a product to figure out your strategy. Knowing how you plan to get your product into people’s hands can have a lot to do with how you build the product — and how much you charge for it.
How to Fast-Track Your Product Building
Once you’ve defined your product-building strategy, you can use it to guide everything else that happens within your company. This includes how you brand your business, how you market the product, and how you hire product creators and other team members.