From Jack Altman, edited:
Job number 1 is get product market fit. A heuristic for everything you do can be “does this activity help me get product market fit?” You’ll know you have PMF is when strangers buy your product, when they’re passionate, when 20%+ of demos convert, etc. Qualitatively, it’ll feel like chasing a boulder down a hill, not pushing one up. Still hard, but decidedly different. If you aren’t sure you don’t have it yet.
Your first 10 hires set the stage for your company’s talent bar and culture. Spend a lot of time with them pre-hire. Get them to work with you for a day or even a week. You’re looking for diamonds in the rough. Known quantities are starting companies or joining sure things.
Don’t outsource your early sales. You don’t do early sales to get revenue, you do it to get product feedback and inch your way toward product market fit.
Don’t delegate product decisions. It’s okay to be very micro-managey as the founder in the early days, especially with the product. The product is literally all your startup has to offer to the world. Don’t feel bad about being a bit of maniac here. Outside of building the product, talking to customers, and hiring, delegate everything else you can.
Make friends with at least 10 customers or industry people. Not like email friends. Text with them, go for walks, get well past the surface level stuff. You can partially skip this step if you yourself are the customer.
(i) In addition to creating a product which people want to use, product-market fit also requires a strong business model. For example, for years Seeking Alpha was reliant entirely on advertising, and that was incredibly challenging. Once we focused on subscriptions, the entire company was transformed, including our growth rate. See: Product-market fit requires a market, a business model and customer engagement.
(ii) Re. “You can partially skip this step if you yourself are the customer.” This was my experience. It’s so much easier to build a great product if you are your first customer. You know what you want.
(iii) I really like the questions on Y Combinator’s application form: Six simple questions to test product-market fit and competitive advantage.
(iv) Note the similarity of those questions to: Four simple questions to help you get product-market fit.