Justworks Product SVP on Product Expansion (Part 2)
As product managers, we’re always looking at ways to improve our business through product expansion. However, it’s important to proceed with caution and develop concrete reasons for adding to your product line. As I’ve learned in my career, there are just as many reasons not to expand as there are to proceed with expansion. While I don’t like to focus on the negative, let’s look at drivers to avoid when looking to expand your product line.
Early employees are bored or looking for growth.
Clearly, it’s important to keep your best employees happy and driving toward new goals. However, you shouldn’t start a product expansion project simply because “employee #2” needs a new assignment. Instead, these decisions must satisfy business goals that extend beyond the personal satisfaction of one or several employees. Again, you should work to retain top talent. That said, you should never launch something new just because an employee asks for it.
Competitors are in the news.
It’s quite common for executives or board members to have knee-jerk reactions about your competitors being in the news. Simply put, they want to know why these competitors are getting all the attention instead of their own business. As a result, they ask product teams to come up with “our version” of what they just saw in the news. However, the issue with this process is that you’re simply reacting to coverage rather than digging into why your competition is in the news.
Investors suggested it.
Along the lines of hearing about competitors in the news, investors will often chime in with their perspective on what should be released next. While it’s great to have input from the people who are investing in what you’re building, you can’t make product line decisions based solely on what investors want. Furthermore, this is where strong executive leadership from your CEO is essential to pushing back on investors. Ultimately, they can help your team stay on track with your roadmap. As a result, you won’t have to pivot every time an investor has a suggestion.
I’m sure that you hear about “the magic” of companies that significantly invest in experimentation. However, there are limits to the results that come from endlessly tinkering. Simply put, you can’t invest in experimentation simply because you want to try new things out. Furthermore, when you’re at a startup – you can’t afford to spend time doing anything that isn’t driving tangible results. Ultimately, you need to come up with ways to drive creativity without compromising essential resources or time to keep your business moving forward.
“Why can’t you…”
Every product manager deals with several “why can’t you…” requests every day. In other words, your customer service team or top ambassadors in the field will bring you suggestions on ways to improve. That said, you can’t make product expansion decisions based on input from these requests. Again, it’s great to have passionate supporters and a wide range of inputs. However, your product line decisions must be rooted in something more concrete than requests from your biggest fans.
About the speaker
Camilla Velasquez is SVP of Product and Marketing Strategy at Justworks - providing an all-in-one HR and Benefits product for SMBs. Camilla came to Justworks from Etsy, where she was Director of Product, Payments Products & Multi-Channel Sales. Prior to Etsy, she was a Director of New Product Development at American Express and held roles in business development. Camilla is a graduate of Cornell University and lives in Brooklyn, NY.