You hear a lot about product-market fit, highlighting the importance of having a product that satisfies the need of a good market opportunity. An additional dimension to consider in the development and introduction of a new product or service to market is the team.
Why Team Matters
It takes a good team to identify a good market. It also takes a good team to build a good product (or service) to satisfy the needs of that market, to figure out how to bring that product to market, and to convert it into a sustainable and profitable business.
What Matters Most?
What matters most (the product, the market, or the team) is often a personal philosophy if not a religious debate.
Market: Those who believe the market matters most will argue that if you find an attractive market, the team and product are less important and that even a niche market can be significantly profitable.
Product: Those who believe the product matters most will argue that if you can make a significant advancement in technology, then the market and team will follow. Consumers often can’t visualize this future but if you build a great product, it will create a market and there is some forgiveness around the team.
Team: Those who believe that the team matters most will argue that you go into business with people, and therefore, people are the primary driver of value. One can also argue that if you have a truly great team, they will find a way to identify a good market and to build a good product.
There is a some truth in all of these arguments, and at least one of these components has to be exceptionally great to differentiate it from all the other plain good opportunities. I have been in companies where I have seen a good product-market fit make up for a pretty dysfunctional team. I have also seen where a great team has been able to scramble to develop a product and create a seemingly new market opportunity. That said, developing good balance can be an almost magical experience and is when a company truly runs most smoothly, hitting on all cylinders.
Why Fit Matters
“Fit” is also a key part of the puzzle and is the glue that holds together a great product, market, and team.
What I mean is that a product has to satisfy the needs of a market, or it will prove not to be that great of a product. Similarly, not every team is well-suited for every market or to build and deliver every product. The team needs to be a good fit for the market that it is pursuing and also needs to be well-suited to develop and sell the product that it wishes to bring to the market.
For any business in any stage of development, the opportunity lies in knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and then leveraging your strengths while developing and building out around your weaknesses. While you can often compensate for a weakness in one area with a strength in another ultimately having good balance with strong fit between product, market and team will deliver the most successful results.