As a young founder,
We had a storied angel investor out in Arizona.
He made some SF founders a lot of money early in his career. Afterwards, he settled down in Arizona to become a massive fish in the tiny Arizona ‘venture’ pond. More than his money, He invested his time generously in the local community.
He taught me that “Revenue isn’t just revenue.”
Revenue is a signal. It’s evidence. It’s proof. (Pick your adjective.)
It’s proof your startup’s thesis is valid. It’s proof you’re solving problems that matters. That you’re on your way to product-market fit. That you (as startup founders) were right about the gaping hole in the market — that only you saw and acted on.
This fact, when embraced, is key to effective startup product leadership.
Because revenue = proof, we view revenue differently than our product peers in established companies.
Established companies aren’t proving product-market fit. But those of us in startups — we are.
We can’t afford to be dogmatic “stop sign” people in search of ivory tower sales deals.
Hitting quarters is NOT just the sales team’s problem. It’s our problem too.
Hitting quarters and closing deals means WE (collectively) are leading the product towards problems that matter — ones people will trade scarce budgets and professional credibility to solve. Its proof we’re getting closer to product-market fit (though PM-fit is more than just revenue). And it means we’re extending our financial runway to make the company successful.
It also creates a different tone between product and sales teams,
enabling product teams to embrace:
/ Shared responsibility
/ Proactive pipeline influence
/ Strategic flexibility
/ True partnership between product/sales teams
Articles for Startup Product Leaders
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