StartUp Founders: Product-Market Fit (PMF) Is Determined By Your Customers, Not By You

Learn why you can't choose PMF on your own, and why it's up to your customers to decide.

Many founders who are new to the startup world often misunderstand what product-market fit (PMF) truly is. PMF is not something that you, as a founder, can choose on your own. Instead, it’s determined by your customers.

When you build your minimum viable product (MVP) and take it to the market, you are doing so based on a hypothesis that your product will offer sufficient value. However, the ultimate decision as to whether or not your product has achieved PMF rests with your customers. If people are willing to pay for your product and would be significantly unhappy without it, that is when you know that you have PMF.

It’s worth noting that many companies struggle for years to achieve PMF. Even if you start seeing some traction, there may be churn or other issues that you need to address before you can truly claim that you have achieved PMF. This is why it’s important to iterate on your product and keep improving it until your customers tell you that you’ve hit the mark.

One example of a company that struggled to achieve PMF is Twitter. When Twitter first launched, it was marketed as a social network for people to post updates about their daily lives. However, it wasn’t until the company pivoted to focus on breaking news and live events that it truly found PMF. As Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, once said, “We didn’t invent hashtags, they were already there. What Twitter did is make them useful for sorting information.”

Remember, your customers are the ones who choose whether or not you have achieved PMF. It’s important to listen to their feedback and iterate on your product until you have truly met their needs. Good luck!

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