Nov 2, 2023
When I built my first product from scratch, I remember the overwhelming mix of excitement and confusion as I navigated this new world. I made mistakes, learnt lessons, and discovered a passion to mentor others on this journey.
This Handbook is for you, and as such, I want to treat it like a product. I want to improve it based on your needs.
I am using this tool that will let you highlight, recommend, ask questions and give me feedback based on what you are reading.
As I review the comments, I will add more content, visuals and YouTube videos to explain other concepts.
Welcome to this new journey where we build this handbook together.
Welcome to Product Land
So, you've secured your first product role after a rigorous interview process. You may be a techie, business analyst, or founder seeking clarity. You may be an aspiring creator or someone with an insatiable curiosity.
To each one of you, Welcome to Product Land.
This guide is crafted especially for you. Authored by someone who's walked in your shoes, its purpose is to simplify your initiation into the product world.
Curious about the inspiration behind this guide? Dive into this: Choosing your path Product or Management?
How to use this handbook?
This handbook goes beyond tools and extensive philosophical texts about the merits of building a product. Instead, it resonates with my core belief:
"Help People Build Great Product Selling more Without Breaking the Bank".
This isn't a directive on which top-tier framework or process to adopt. The concepts and skills I'll impart are rooted in practicality and promise a high return on investment.
The playbooks I'll share have been time-tested and adaptable whether you're a solo creator or part of a 500-strong organization.
Embracing this journey might push you out of your comfort zone. But I assure you, you'll gain new skills and feel more empowered. You will view product creation from an entirely new perspective.
In essence, this handbook revolves around the decisions ahead of you and provides insights on navigating them. It mirrors my journey of mastering product management.
You can access and participate as a beta reader here.
Who is this handbook for?
Everybody can start something. Whether looking for a job or currently in a position, you can build a product.
There is a product in all of us.
The challenge often lies in our fear of beginning or the absence of an idea.
When we contemplate creating something, we invariably measure ourselves against society's best. There are two issues with this perspective:
First, it's not a race. There aren't any fixed rules, and everyone has the potential to succeed.
Second, anything we embark on, whether grand or modest, holds significance to us and potentially to those around us. If it positively impacts just 10 individuals, wouldn't its existence be justified?
Before we delve into reasons you should pursue it or the benefits awaiting you, we must first clarify what a product is.
What is a product?
A product is either tangible or intangible, designed to provide value and acknowledged through its use or purchase by a customer.
It might be something you can physically touch, like a phone, or a service you avail, such as a music streaming app. Additionally, it can encompass knowledge or content, like blog posts, speaking events, or YouTube videos.
Every product originates from an idea and, driven by dedication and passion, transforms into something that enhances our lives or adds joy to them.
If we push the idea, we are all products of our own life.
As such, the principles you are going to find in this handbook can be used to improve and grow.
Perhaps you've observed that I didn’t specify building an app. While I recognize it might be a primary objective for many, not everyone is on a quest to become the next Elon Musk, as alluring as that sounds.
There's an abundance of products you can bring to life, be it a restaurant, a bar, a tangible item, or a digital application.
For a bit of personal insight, my first product venture was selling bedding packages online, catering to international students. It was an enlightening journey, and the lessons I garnered still shape the products I craft today.
The question remains: Why should you start something, and what's in it for you?
Why build something?
When we think about starting a product or business, it's important to look at three big things:
What's happening around us: This means understanding the rules set by the government, how the economy is doing, and what people in our community are talking about.
What's new and trending: This is about spotting new ideas or things that are becoming more common and liked by many.
Observing people's feeling and needs: It's important to know what problems people have and how we might help solve them.
By keeping these three things in mind, we can create something that many people will enjoy and find useful.
Over the past few years, a huge trend has been the creator economy. This exciting world of creators is massive, with over 50 million people in it, and is worth somewhere between $100 billion to $150 billion.
There are special places on the internet, like Patreon and YouTube, that help these creators share their work and earn money. They've given out billions to creators since they started! And now, with places like Substack and fun programs on TikTok, the best creators earn big money every year.
Now, the climate of global recession and higher interest have created an atmosphere where highly skilled workers and new entrants are questioning their futures in this economy.
Finally, with the advancement of AI and the progress of technology, all types of companies are looking to integrate emerging technologies inside their business. They want to transform their business model and invest trillions to transform digitally the way they are working.
All these changes mean there are many chances for creators, people starting new things, and anyone who wants to use the online world to carve out a special place for themselves.
Given everything happening around us, building something new might just be the smartest move we can make!
Why do it personally?
That's my most truthful and honest answer—no reason but selfishness.
Starting something is like travelling and living in another country.
I place all new experiences at the same level. When people ask me what they should do and what I thought about the idea of them moving to different countries.
My answer is direct: DO IT. They should experience it, and they should do it while they can.
Many who have lived in different countries can tell you how they have been amazed by the culture and discovered new ways of living and thinking. But also how they started to discover themselves even more.
Initiating a project or building something from the ground up offers a similar revelation, and I put it at the same level as the travelling experience. Crafting something from scratch provides an unparalleled experience.
It's a path to discover skills and capabilities you didn't know you had.
To be transparent, I grew up and was influenced to be risk-averse. I was raised with the idea of pursuing a stable career post-university, and that's the path I initially took.
Yet, even in that context, I push the boundaries to do something different and build my offering within the consulting firm.
Which brings me to the answer to the initial query:
Why should you build something?
The motivation is purely personal. It's an endeavour for your fulfilment, not for anyone else's.
Some companies may say they want to change the world: saving the planet, conserving the Amazon forests or improving the public's general health. It suggests creations must come from an extrinsic motivation. Yet, one undeniable facet of the human condition is our inherent selfishness.
People like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs have their own big dreams, their vision of the world and how they want to attain it. It's purely intrinsic.
There is no better motivation than the one that is coming from inside.
Only you can decide why do you want to it
This naturally segues to the subsequent question:
What’s in it for you?
When we think about trying something new, we might fear what we could lose. It's like picking one toy over another. But whatever we choose, we learn something new from it.
Making something new is a big deal. I can't say for sure if what you make will work out. But I can tell you, you'll learn so much from trying. I still use the things I learned when I make stuff.
As I said, making stuff teaches us a lot. It's like looking at your reflection in water. If you want to be in charge of something but can't make it all by yourself, you should think about why you want to.
Making things shows us what we're really good at. We sometimes surprise ourselves with what we can do.
I don't think just reading books and not doing anything helps us learn. Going to fancy schools also doesn't make you the smartest. It gives you a network, though.
I come from a family where everyone works hard. Working and earning for what you have is a big part of life. Don't just talk about things. Do them! That's the best lesson I've ever learned. Sometimes, we forget this when we get a big job.
There are many ways to learn how to be a product master. Here are some ways, but the last one is my favourite:
Climbing up the job ladder
Watch and learn from another boss
Work at a place that makes things for people
Work at a small new company
Make your own thing
Each way will teach you different things. Your job might be different based on where the product is at. It also depends on how big the company is. Is the product new or old? Is the small company just starting, or has it been around?
Working in different places will teach you different stuff. Sometimes, you share your job with others.
Now, here are 10 final reasons why you should do it:
Learn all aspects of product management
Go beyond product management
Develop a vision
Communicate and market your vision
Master the art of selling
It's the best school
No one cares if you fail
You may discover something unique and be able to build a business.
The only thing you need is an idea and a problem.