Product Management

How Entrepreneurial Mindset helps Product Managers

Product managers, who are sometimes referred to as “mini-CEOs,” can benefit from entrepreneurship. We explain how.
Mahima Arora
12 min to read

To deliver amazing products, successful product managers channel their inner entrepreneurs.

Product managers, who are sometimes referred to as “mini-CEOs,” can benefit from entrepreneurship.

While there are many varying viewpoints on what makes a great product manager, individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit are more likely to succeed. An excellent product manager is, in many ways, an internal entrepreneur, tirelessly advocating product ideas and generating value from inspiration.

When one thinks of great entrepreneurs, the image that comes to mind is of a risk-taking visionary who chases chances with persistent energy and ambition, eventually experiencing tremendous success—against all odds.

Moreover, the reality for entrepreneurs working in the trenches of modern business is frequently far less glamorous, these characteristics are generally what inspire winning product leaders.

Product Manager as a Storyteller

When you look back on a highly successful product, it’s easy to believe that success was predetermined. However, from the perspective of a product manager looking ahead, when the only thing the product manager has is a seed of an idea, the road ahead is treacherous. Will this concept take off like Google Search or fizzle out like Google Glass?

At the best of times, predicting the future is nearly impossible, but when considerable time and financial investments are at stake, it takes a strong will to take such a risk. When you factor in the organization’s internal opposition to change, which new ideas frequently face, the risks become even greater. Entrepreneurial product managers don’t simply acknowledge this truth; they embrace it as the most reliable indicator that they’re on the right track to a winning and perhaps game-changing product concept.

Risk is one of those entry barriers that keep competitors at bay while also making a product concept worthwhile to pursue. An entrepreneurial product manager’s primary role is to be aware of and mitigate risk.

So, what’s the best way to “lean in” to a fresh product concept? The key to persuading yourself and others of the value of your idea is to create a compelling story around it. While a product manager’s first instinct may be to write user stories, be sure to explain The Story of the Idea at a higher level before diving into the use case details. You’ll create a story that’s more than an elevator pitch but not quite a business plan. It must be concise, clear, and compelling. This method of telling the tale aids in the development of a shared understanding of the concept inside the business, as well as highlighting its potential.

As you construct the story around the product idea, keep in mind the value it will offer to clients. Also, make sure to address any objections to the idea or potential concerns by incorporating them into the broader storey.

Establishing the Product Vision

What it takes to be a visionary in this sense is the capacity to metaphorically enter inside a client’s mind and understand what an idea may become, as well as the ability to assess the organization’s strategic goals projected against the possible market. The question is if the vision can be turned into a genuine product that a real market will pay for.

It’s tough to establish a clear and appealing vision for a product, much like it’s difficult to recognise a brilliant product concept when it only exists in the abstract. The distinction is that this vision goes beyond the first product iteration and encompasses related goods, categories, and markets. When deciding what a product should be when it grows up, the entrepreneurial product manager examines the notion in the light of that vision in order to define the art of the possible and, eventually, the art of the probable.

What do you mean when you say “probable”? Project that thought further into the future after you’ve established The Story around the idea’s near-term usefulness. Consider convincing instances of what the product could be in two, three, or five years. What effect might it have on those who use the product? Can the product serve as a springboard for other ideas or products? As your offering matures, what will happen in the market and with your product?

After you’ve considered the various scenarios, break down your thoughts into the logical steps that would be required to get there. Refining the vision and dissecting it into its constituent components aids in articulating a road map for getting there and refining the possible into the probable.

The routine of identifying new opportunities

Entrepreneurs and inspired product managers are also known for their ability to deconstruct common experiences and present a “better way.” “We’ve always done it this way,” or “It can’t be done,” are clear indicators of the next chance. It also serves as a lens through which the world is viewed. The finest product managers can’t help but see every difficulty as an opportunity to improve things, whether it’s a minor feature or a huge product.

Identifying possibilities in your environment is similar to developing a habit. The more you practice, the more natural it becomes, until you can’t help but see how full of possibilities the world is. Behind the idea that “there has to be a better way,” there is a sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are done now. Be conscious of those hints of irritation as a cue to the next opportunity, and attempt to tune into them. Make it a daily priority, and you’ll soon notice chances everywhere.

Your clients may express their unhappiness in a direct manner in some instances. However, identifying and recognising the more subtle choke points can result in significant product and revenue growth.

Collaboration and infectious energy

A product manager, not unexpectedly, serves as a link between a variety of stakeholders, including engineering, marketing, sales, and clients. Collaboration with so many functions, especially when you have no direct influence over the participants in your role as a product manager, necessitates a lot of energy, passion, and tenacity.

There will always be periods when things slow down and progress is slowed. Things take longer than expected, or a technical issue occurs that needs to be resolved. Maintaining momentum requires a strong bias toward action and a desire to roll up your sleeves and dive in, which in turn generates energy and drive among the team to see things through.

There are numerous examples of well-known entrepreneurs who, despite having their backs against the wall, managed to keep it all together by tenacity and pure willpower. Although there aren’t nearly as many heroic stories with a heroic product manager, I’m ready to guess there was one behind the scenes of many of these fire trials.

Persist during difficult times

To begin, keep in mind that product management is a team sport. Bring the team together and come up with creative ways to get around the obstacles. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other teams as well, especially if their areas of specialty differ from the capabilities of the core team.

Many times, product delivery dates are pushed back due to late code delivery to the QA team. As the product’s resident expert, sometimes all you have to do is roll up your sleeves and start testing. This not only helps advance timetables, but it also shows the team that you’re just as committed to getting things done as they are.

Also, remember to savour the tiny victories along the way. The positive thinking that comes from shared excitement and praise, especially after you’ve all overcome a problem together, does wonders for teams and enthusiasm.

Working with incomplete or limited data

Our world is driven by data, and successful business leaders gather and use as much relevant data as possible. Informed product managers, on the other hand, rely significantly on user data, sales or marketing data, client feedback, support cases, and a variety of other sources. They go where the data leads them, making sure to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

What happens, though, when there is no data? When it comes to breaking new ground with new products that don’t neatly fit into current categories, this is frequently the case. You can rely on industry analysts’ newest musings and do your best to extrapolate from sparse data, but when data is scarce or confusing, vital judgments must be made.

The most successful product managers understand that there is no such thing as perfect information and that it is vital to keep pushing forward even when data is inadequate. The data that naturally flows from that forward motion will assist inform the things you choose to repeat as well as those you’ll learn not to try again if you keep your ear to the ground.

The data you collect and the metrics you track will differ depending on the product you’re constructing, but subscription growth, monthly recurring income, churn, client acquisition cost, and lifetime value are some of the most popular. When the data is easily available and the signals are clear, the easy part begins. Make more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

However, if the data is giving you mixed or no indications, it’s critical to figure out why. To further measure and qualify user engagement on your platform, dig deeper into those client dialogues and look beyond just login stats. If you dig a little further, you can identify the difference between 100,000 “active” users who utilise your app and 100,000 “active” users who just log in and leave. Digging deeper past the vanity metrics to truly understand what the data can reveal you can help you adjust course and avoid dangers you might not have noticed otherwise.

Be modest

Last but not least, the ability to be humble is a defining trait of the best entrepreneurial product managers. “Servant-leadership” or “leading from behind” are terms used to describe this type of leadership. The basic idea is to have enough faith in one’s own abilities and expertise to seek out and listen to guidance and information from others.

Be modest enough to seek out team members who are brighter than you, to truly listen to client problems, and to accept that you will make mistakes. The cornerstone for great achievement is an open mind. It contributes to the development of perspective by taking into account other points of view, resulting in a product that is stronger and better suited to its target market.

To be successful, nurture your inner Entrepreneur

Every new product is a new story, and the product manager is responsible for telling it. A compelling presentation of a tale establishes a shared understanding and mobilizes the entire team. A clear and succinct story aids in the distillation of the product vision and the outlining of the steps required to accomplish it. Furthermore, the product manager must develop the habit of finding fresh opportunities in situations that are fraught with conflict and dissatisfaction.

There is a line where the product manager mindset delves into the intricacies while the entrepreneur must remain above the fray. However, it’s difficult to identify the difference between the two in the early stages of a new product. To successfully launch new goods, great product managers can channel their inner entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, if you’re thinking about becoming a freelance product manager and have an entrepreneurial streak, now is the time to finally explore it as a viable career option. Since the pandemic, freelancers have been reaching new heights and prospering. Additionally, Companies and agencies are also looking for hiring freelance product managers with greater experience. You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity.

In conclusion

Being a product manager entails being an entrepreneur within your organization. Take ownership and accountability for everything related to your product. Your strategy must be comprehensive, evidence-based, and diplomatic. You must be able to switch back and forth between the large picture and the day-to-day details. To be effective, you must understand your product, market, company, and self. Best of luck!

Author Bio

Hetvi works as a Product Associate at Refrens.com – Online Invoice Generator & India’s most powerful platform for freelancer’s growth. She has worked for some renowned companies as a Brand and Digital marketing associate. You can follow Refrens.com on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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