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  • Writer's pictureTacit Edge

Stop Wasting Money! How Entrepreneurs Can Get the Most Out of Their Dev Dollars

When we work with entrepreneurs, we hear the same story over and over again. It goes something like this:

“I worked with this dev team, and I didn’t hear from them for weeks. They built a ton of stuff, but it just isn’t working. Now I’m $100K in the hole. Please help me; I don’t know what to do.”

My heart rate is pounding just reading this. And sadly, it’s a lot of people’s reality.

What is Happening?

To be clear, I don’t think this is always happening on purpose. I think developer teams have the best intentions. They want to solve problems for people and do great work. But they are incentivized to code as much as possible, spend little time on discovery and user research, and try to impress with quantity over quality. They are coming from a waterfall and Agile world where “team velocity,” or how much is being built, is a measurement of success.

Then we have entrepreneurs who often have not worked with development teams before. Some have never built a product before but have a dream to change the world for their users and their families. They trust that the teams can guide them in the process of building great software.

When these two groups meet, it’s no wonder that the story I relayed above is so common. In fact, it’s the only outcome that can happen in this scenario. It’s no wonder that 95% of products fail, according to MIT.

what makes a great product manager

Enter the Product Management Coaching Mindset

The best products today are built by companies that employ Product Managers and have a Product-model of operation. This is because Product Managers are the folks who help focus technical teams on the right problems to solve and work with UX designers, data teams, marketers, and their development teams to validate the usability, viability, value, feasibility, and morality of a product.

There is a whole profession focused on getting the most out of our resources. This is what is missing when entrepreneurs go to build a solution for the first time. Often, they don’t know if the problem is valuable enough to solve, if they have come up with the best solution to the problem, if they can financially maintain the solution, and if the solution is even possible to build.

This means we waste thousands of dollars building in the dark, not knowing if this idea is even the right one to pursue in the first place.

Use Product Management Coaching and Mindset Instead! 

This may seem like an impossible challenge to overcome, but it isn’t. Entrepreneurs need to adopt the Product Management mindset to overcome this challenge. And guess what, this mindset is easier and cheaper than you ever imagined. Here are things you can do to take a product management coaching and mindset approach to working with your development teams.

Before approaching a development team, ask yourself these questions:

What is the underlying problem I’m trying to solve? This question gets at the heart of the problem NOT a solution. If you answer something like “I want to create an AI product for doctors,” this is a solution, not a problem. Ask yourself WHY you want to build this solution. Who is it for? Why do they care?

Who is likely to pay to have this problem solved? Often entrepreneurs think their solution will work for everyone. But to succeed, you need to find the smallest niche of folks that are willing to pay to have this problem solved. Who is this person? Why are they willing to pay? If you get as specific as one person, GOOD!

How can I solve this problem for one person tomorrow? This is a big one. If you haven’t been able to solve the problem for even one person, you are not qualified to solve the problem for many using a technology product. Once you can work with just one person, you will learn more about the problem and what works to solve it, then you can build around what works, instead of a hunch.

How to Bring the Product Management Coaching Mindset to The Dev Team

Once you’ve asked yourself the above 3 questions, you may be ready to start working with a team to prototype, test, and build your idea. But as you’re doing this, you want to encourage exploration, space for learning, and testing.

When working with a team, make sure you have the following:

Weekly demos: If the team is showing you what they’ve learned and built weekly, this is a major red flag. Weekly demos allow for the sharing of learnings, the ability to pivot when we discover new information, and the ability to ensure we are building only the minimum before testing. This is a non-negotiable.

Time for testing, not just coding: Tell your development team that throughout the development process, especially early on, we should be spending time testing, building prototypes without code, and building in small chunks that we can show to users for feedback.

Clear metrics: How do we know we are on the right track? You need to know how to measure the success of your product. For example, if you’re building an app to help folks learn a language, ask yourself how you can test and what you can measure to know if you’re on the right track. This will help you calibrate and make sure you’re constantly iterating in the right direction.

Ideation time: We need to have time to dream up different solutions to the problem. If we come up with only one solution and run with that, there is a 95% chance we will fail (see stats above). So create space for creativity with your team. If one solution didn’t work, what else could we try?

Now this isn’t everything you should do to bring the Product Management Coaching Mindset to your entrepreneurial journey, but it’s an amazing first step. By remembering that we can test most of our risks and assumptions without writing a single line of code, even when working with our dev teams, we know you will be infinitely more likely to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Unlock your path to product greatness with Tacit Edge! Our tailor-made product management training & certification programs are designed to elevate your skills and propel entrepreneurs toward success.

what makes a great product manager

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