Defining success criteria helps remove analysis paralysis

product management

Defining success criteria is a great way to remove analysis paralysis and establish your expectations for your business.

Welcome to another publication of the Product in Public newsletter!

I am giving you an inside look at how I help companies go from ideation → validation → funding → launch → scale.

Before we get to today's newsletter, here’s some of the content I’m consuming that you might find interesting.

What I'm consuming

What I’m listening to:

  • Elon Musk’s interview on the Lex Fridman podcast - I’ve been consuming a lot of content around Elon lately, including the latest biography done on him. What I particularly enjoyed about this podcast interview is the discussion about dystopian societies and how some level of conflict might be necessary in the world.

What I’m watching:

Alright, on to today’s post.

Release early and often

Let me introduce you to Sam. Sam is an international entrepreneur who recently launched a marketplace and community for African-based creators. It’s called Conalle.

Sam and I connected on X (that’s Twitter) after he posted he was looking for some mentorship around product management.

Sam was questioning whether or not he was ready to take the product live. There had been a few instances where he had almost pulled the trigger, but he didn’t feel like the product was ready.

It wasn’t that Sam didn’t understand his target market. He knew it well because he had done quite a few customer surveys.

It wasn’t that the product lacked enough features to be considered an MVP (minimum viable product).

He even had a well-thought-out series of launch-day activities to help build up some product buzz.

After about half an hour together talking about his startup I realized that Sam was experiencing analysis paralysis because he is a bit of a perfectionist. I encouraged him that the best time to release a product is when you don’t feel like it is quite ready because that allows you to get in a feedback loop with customers.

Then I got to the truth.

Sam wanted the launch to go well and he was concerned it wouldn’t meet his expectations. Except, he couldn’t vocalize those expectations in detail.

Enter success criteria

In product management, there is the concept of success criteria. It defines the criteria necessary to consider a feature enhancement working as designed. Success criteria can help define the goals of the product. For example, “Create a new product feature that increases engagement by 10x.”

For Sam to feel good about his product launch, his success criteria were reasonable. He said he would be happy with 20 or so registrations on launch day.

Now that we had that well-defined, Sam and I backed into how he would get to that number.

My personal belief is that for B2C (business-to-consumer) products, founders should be able to leverage their networks to get to the first 100 users.

Sure enough, Sam knows a lot of creators in his local community. Those creators were some of the folks he had interviewed in his customer surveys. I suggested he contact those people and invite them to join the platform.

Another tip I gave Sam was to ask those people to invite their friends. Why? Because creators tend to hang out with other creators. For longer-term growth, I encouraged Sam to think about some sort of referral program where community members would be incentivized to invite other creators. If you are a member of any newsletters on Substack or Beehiiv, there is a feature where readers can get their subscription for free by referring a certain number of other subscribers.

Success criteria work for just about anything

Using success criteria in your business could be a game changer for you. It helps you establish the end goal that you are expecting and then enables you to back into how you are going to get to that goal.

It is also a concept you can use in your personal life.

Here are a few examples to consider:

  • I will spend 1 hour a day with my kids.
  • I will have lunch with my parents at least once per week.
  • I work out at least four times per week.

If you do those things and that equates to a success week for you then you don’t have to feel guilty about not getting to other things.

If you’ve found this information helpful, I hope you’ll do two things for me.

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