Are you a fire starter?

A few days ago I was talking to a client about taking a new product to market and something struck me. In hindsight it seems obvious.

“Are you a fire starter?” I almost asked because everything I had seen up to that point suggested otherwise.

The skills and attitude needed for the product manager or the founder of a startup are very different from those needed to grow a business that already has a client base and revenues.

The dictionary meaning of fire starter is something used to start a fire or a person who starts a fire.

In case of a startup, “a fire starter” refers to someone who:

– can make things happen

– has the ability to operate in an environment filled with ambiguity, constraints, or lack of resources

– can figure out the way in the absence of a clear path to success

Building and growing a product in a big company is all about stoking the fire that is already burning. You need to keep adding wood – marketing, product features, customer requests, etc.

Building a new product in a startup is like starting a fire with wet wood, very little of it and in windy and rainy conditions.

If you are working on product in a startup, ask yourself, “Are you a fire starter?”