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Continuous product-market fit

It became a tickbox that when ticked is forgotten. But since you "reached" it - your market moved on and your product moved on. You cannot really achieve product-market fit once and for all. You need to continuously keep achieving it.

Product-market fit is a concept attributed to Marc Andreessen and popularised by Eric Ries in his "Lean Startup" book. Product-market fit is what all visioners want for their ideas. Startups are being judged by whether why can achieve product-market fit. How does "achieving it" feels? Marc describes:
You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening. The customers aren’t quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn’t spreading, usage isn’t growing that fast, press reviews are kind of “blah”, the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.

And you can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it – or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. You’re hiring sales and customer support staff as fast as you can. Reporters are calling because they’ve heard about your hot new thing and they want to talk to you about it.
When entrepreneurs are able to demonstrate product-market fit - people start investing in their ideas. Savvy businesses have taken lean startup ideas and implemented them locally for their products. Now their PMs need to demonstrate product-market fit until their companies are ready to invest further.

All these practices are definitely valuable. Product-market fit helps us not to waste time on ideas that will not work. However, sometimes, when we treat product-market fit like a milestone to achieve once - things can go wrong pretty quickly.

The market has moved on while you were doing your scrums

Change is the only constant. Doh. However, how often we forget that? It's only natural. When we keep the constant change in mind it feels like we never really make any progress. Like we keep on running in a hamster wheel.

We do something and for a moment it feels like we're ahead, on the edge. But the very next day we see an endless backlog of things to do and it feels like despair. What could help is reminding ourselves that things move on no matter whether we did something good or we screw up. In product,  we screw up often, so it's actually a good thing when markets move on - it gives us more chances to do the right thing. Besides, all the others around us are in the same situation.

When is a product done?

Never. Like with a product-market fit we need to keep doing it, keep achieving it. We need to be receptive and curious about our customers, our market, our competitors. We need to keep learning every day.

In the end of the day, when our customers benefited from the product we're building - they pay us and so we can pay our employees. Then we can finally eat a celebratory doughnut for achieving product-market fit, go home, have a good sleep and return to do that again tomorrow.

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