Product Management changes dramatically as startups scale.

Here are 5 ‘product stages’ startups navigate as they grow:

3 employees/founders
At this stage, the product mission is all about finding your first customer. The product is little more than demo-ware. The first customer makes it a reality.

10 employees
At this stage, the product mission is keeping that first customer and making them successful. They bet on you and it’s your job to do everything to make them heroes.

30 employees
At this stage, the product mission is transitioning from scrappy to systematic. The baton is passed to a ‘non-founder product team’. Dev predictability improves. Planning horizons extend. Strategy starts to become important. Product is built for customer segments instead of individual customers.

100 employees
At this stage, the product mission is operational scale. The product team is supporting a rapidly growing customer base and internal organization. Communication, process and structure are key to drive alignment and growth.

300 employees
At this stage, the product mission is expansion. The sales team needs new products to sell to the market. New product lines, partnerships and acquisitions become important ways to keep fueling revenue growth.

Knowing which mission you’re on gives clarity and focus.