The 3 key tasks for successful CEOs:
- Task #1: Build a product that users love
- Task #2: Figure out how you are going to grow
- Task #3: Make sure you are going to stay a winner if you win
(1) I love Sam’s clarity and simplicity. This is similar to Peter Nixey’s The only startup goal worth your undivided attention, but with more structure.
(2) Are the three tasks sequential? In other words, should you figure out growth only after you’ve finished building a product that users love? I think there’s overlap, but broadly speaking — yes, they’re sequential.
(3) In my experience, the most common fatal error made by entrepreneurs (often encouraged by their VCs) is to focus insufficiently on building a product users love. We move from core product development to growth — prematurely. This is a mistake we’ve made numerous times in Seeking Alpha.
(4) Why do we move prematurely from “build a product people love” to growth? (i) It’s easier to measure user or revenue growth than it is to measure how much users love your product. (ii) Since sustainable growth is impossible without a successful product, growth metrics assume product success; so we think we can measure product success by measuring growth. (iii) Growth is the true measure of startup success, and entrepreneurs (and particularly VCs) like to measure end results.
(5) There are two approaches to measuring how much your users love your product: (i) Net promoter score. (ii) User engagement – how frequently your users use your product. I prefer the latter because it’s based on actual behavior, not what people say.
(6) Your target for user engagement should take into account the frequency of habit of your product area. For example, investing is a daily habit, so Seeking Alpha targets high user frequency.
(7) See How to set priorities in product development and (also by Sam Altman) For product managers: “The best startup advice I’ve heard”.