One of the most talked about concepts among startups is product-market fit (PMF). It comes up in daily conversations, monthly updates, investor conversations, and is a regular topic of startup blogs (like this, this, this, and this).
Because entrepreneurs are so goal oriented, we crave a definition. We crave a SMART goal where we can see how much farther we have to go to get there. We want a deadline, a date, and a hard stop on the current phase.
Yet PMF continues to be difficult to define. Some of the definitions you will hear, just for SaaS companies.
- when you close X non-friendly customers in X time frame
- when X non-friendly customers are talking about the product, and giving tons of feedback
- when 2 account execs and 1 BDR can consistently and predictably close deals
- getting to $1mm ARR
- getting to $1.5mm ARR
- getting to $10mm ARR
- you are growing MRR by 10% per month
So how in the world do you know what your goal is? What are you pursuing?
The truth of the matter is that setting a hard numeric goal as the “PMF finish line” is difficult. Remembering that PMF is a spectrum is important. As Feld says:
Every time you work on something new, whether it’s a new feature, a new product, or a new product line, recognize that you are searching for incremental product/market fit. The search is a continuous and never ending quest. Don’t confuse illusion with reality.