Launch early, launch often. Keep that startup lean. Achieve minimum viable product. These are the hardest problems to solve for any entrepreneur. But the next challenge is even harder: marketing your product.
My marketing professor used to tell us Innovation = Invention + Marketing. Product-market fit is the invention. Marketing is achieving influence and presence in a sector.
During the innumerable man years spent building the right product, a startup hones its product development and engineering expertise. But once a company has product-market fit, it must cultivate additional skills. The company has to keep learning.
To succeed, the company has to become insanely great at branding and PR, at lead generation and sales, at account management and customer service. In addition, it has to develop these internal teams in a cohesive, collaborative culture.
During this transition, a CEO’s job changes. Instead of product and engineering management, a CEO develops sales processes, selects customer support tools, conducts press tours and sells, sells, sells. All at once, the work load becomes too much to handle, and then it’s time to hire some experts in these areas.
Managing this transition is one of the key parts to crossing the chasm. This period in a company’s life is all about scaling – finding the people and processes that allow the invention, the great product to reach as many customers as possible. No two companies achieve it the same way. But all great companies achieve it.