We’d laid off half the company 6 months prior. Only 8 of us remained.

We were fighting desperately for customers.

One marquee customer was live.

Multiple deals loomed promising.

………

But these enterprise customers were zealous.

They loved the tech. But they all loved it differently.

They wanted to bend the tech to their problems.

Five enterprise deals started looking like 5 different products.

Building them would have killed us.

………

Our Head of Product saw it coming.

So he gathered the team.

We crammed around a small table inside our drab old office next to campus.

He shared a simple, black and white presentation.

No pictures. No sizzle. Just words.

In essence, he shared a Positioning Statement.

{Product name} solves {key problem} for {target customer} using {differentiated approach} to enable {transformative future}.

We debated and then ultimately agreed.

………

With a single deck and a succinct statement, he brought focus and clarity to the company.

He kept the success of big deals from killing us.

He kept us on a path we could execute.

………

I’ve since suggested positioning statements to founders. I get confused looks. It probably feels academic. And it wasn’t until now that I’ve taken the time to share the story. It’s the reason behind the recommendation. Clarity around target customer, target problem, and product is powerful. It just might keep your startup alive.


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