You and your company can’t be all things to all people. You need to choose.
That’s always the first thought that strikes, when I hear of someone looking to build a multi-purpose product for a potentially big market;
Jack of all trades, master of none.
My rationale is that when you’re going for several and quite different use cases all at once, it becomes increasingly hard to communicate to your customers, why you’re exceptionally good at serving exactly their needs and get them to spend the cash on your product or service.
Chances are there will always by a small number of focused pure players who do a better job at solving the customers problem than you do with your ’80 % fixed’ approach (which is in essence what you communicate when you say “We can do all of this” instead of “We just do this”).
The argument can be a bit counter intuitive, I know. Because many will think that with more use cases come more opportunity to make an impact and be successful – not less. Alas, the devil is in the detail as hinted at above.
The contrast to the ‘one size fits all’ approach is to look at where the biggest addressable, focused market is – and then go after that big time. Yes, you will be doing one thing (you get my point, I am sure), but you will be focused, and the opportunity will be there to serve customers who are not seeing “A bit of this, a bit of that” as the solution to their specific problem(s).
Hiring for a key role in a new startup is both interesting and frightening.
You get the opportunity to meet great people, who have invested time and interest in what you’re going to do, and you really need to make sure you end up with the right one.
It can be tempting to just interview a few people for the role to save time and go deeper than you can with more people. But actually you should do it the reverse; you should run more 1st interviews, be a bit less deep and just form your impression as you go along.
Because it will enable you to get the real feel for who’s going to be the right candidate. Just as you know when you’re in the same room with the person, you will know when you’re not. And those moments will also help you inform what’s needed for someone to be the right fit.
I am following this approach for the role of Head of Product for MedTech X, and I think it’s paying off. I am meeting lots of people, and steadily I get more crisp about what the right profile for the role is.
As I go through the interviews I keep a spreadsheet for myself, where I write down my comments and score tha candidates. I do that based on:
Chemistry (don’t ever underestimate that – especially in a startup)
I give everybody an average score based on the above and I supplement with comments. In that way I always have an overview, but more importantly: I can go back and revisit based on the next interview I do.
In that way I can refine my opinion on candidates and what’s crucial for the right one to have as I go along and without ever losing the bigger picture. And I can use the investment I make in meeting quite a lot of different people to the full effect – and ultimately hopefully get the right one.