“Entrepreneurship is a state of mind, a can-do attitude, a capacity to focus on a vision and work toward it.” —Barry Rogstad
A product manager and an entrepreneur have many striking similarities. Furthermore, these two unlikely bed partners can actually fulfil either role effortlessly, providing the skills, drive, enthusiasm and motivation is there.
Entrepreneurs and product managers have a special skill that allows them to identify an issue or see a problem and stamp it out. It’s not some bleak outlook where a problem is always discovered, real or imagined, it is a unique skill in identifying real issues that can cause production delay, profit leakage or business downtime. By nipping a problem in the bud, the entrepreneur has their antidote armed and ready.
There is no doubt the ideal product manager should be someone with an entrepreneurial background, and likewise an entrepreneur should have product management experience. Entrepreneurs are not just plucked out of thin air; they are bred within the same kind of environment we would see playing out every day in the role of a product manager.
Both roles demand a great deal of creativity too; you really need to stay ahead of the competition and be innovative, be first with an idea and take the occasional leap of faith. The best product managers have a creative slant and an edge that sets them apart from the opposition.
A product manager also has real passion and believes in the success of the mission. You may expect both entrepreneurs and product managers to have passion, which will show in the meeting room or office environment, as well as the odd bout of constructive criticism. Both entrepreneurs and product managers also have that courageous aspect about them. To err is human, and yes entrepreneurs and product managers will make the odd mistake but the skill is in steering the team and/or problem back on course in a way that nobody ever noticed.
Great product managers and entrepreneurs passionately believe in the cause. It’s the kind of passion that makes them work even when they are not working; the kind of passion that could wake them up in the middle of the night simply because they had a new idea that needs further process. (Btw, you should ask my wife about my own midnight… epiphanies!)
A product manager has to remain highly disciplined, manage the team and keep the customer fully informed and happy at all times.
The best way for a product manager to approach the customer with a problem is to highlight what fix you have in mind to the problem. In other words, the problem no longer is the headline; the solution takes over as the primary factor of communication. Both entrepreneurs and product managers always succeed in this way.
As Keith Cowing says: “Being an entrepreneur and being a product manager are extremely similar. The best product managers, like entrepreneurs, contain this innate skill to make it happen. That means dealing with ambiguity and determining your own destiny. It means having the hustle and grit to get things done, even in the face of adversity. You should be out there making it happen.
Being a product manager (or an entrepreneur) is tough and frustrating – but damn is it gratifying.”
I couldn’t agree more!