Should you join a "Startup" as a Product Manager?

Should you join a "Startup" as a Product Manager?


5 min read

Thinking of jumping into a startup as a product manager? (because they pay well? OR are you someone who likes pressure? πŸ”₯)

Well, given the recent boom in startups in Bangladesh, it's not surprising that many ambitious professionals are considering joining one.

If you're thinking of making this big leap, there's no better time than now. But before you go on LinkedIn and scour the job section for Product Manager roles, it would serve you well to read this article first(you would thank yours truly - truly πŸ˜‰). Jokes aside, before you say yes to that offer or even interview with a startup, here are ten things you need to consider first. It will help you make an informed decision rather than a rash one.

What does it mean to be a Product Manager in a startup?

A product manager's job is to oversee the product lifecycle and make sure the product stays relevant. ( To know more, read my last few articles β†’ here )

Product Managers need to understand the market, the customers, and the competition so that they can identify opportunities and risks(Remember β†’ you won't stay in a product role for long if you aren't good 😱). They then decide on the products that will address those needs.

Product managers, therefore, need to be good at communication and collaboration. They need to be able to understand different stakeholders, be able to communicate, and be able to synthesize opinions and wishes. In a big company, PMs might have one product to look after.

In a startup, you'll be responsible for multiple products. You will be working with core teams, who will, from time to time, depend on you to move the needle. You might also be responsible for the revenue of the product.

Determining if the startup is a good fit for you

Startups come with a lot of uncertainty (Trust me β†’ A lot of uncertainty). The product may not be making any money, the founders may not have worked together before, and the goals may keep changing. If you thrive in a chaotic environment, then you're well on your way to succeeding in this type of company ( Wo-hoo! You were born in a pressure cookerπŸ’ͺ🏼).

If, however, you like things to be a bit more structured, a startup might not be the best place for you - Yours truly started his career in an MNC (structured AF) but quickly transitioned into startup roles. For me having flexibility while working on projects was the core reason to move to startups. Having a bigger role to play in the organization than MNCs or traditional companies would take years to give me was an added bonus.

Startups are often understaffed and don't have the resources to hire the right people. You may also be expected to wear multiple hats(Quite the pressure if I am being honest πŸ˜΅β€πŸ’«). However, this might not be fine as a starter position, but it might allow you to grow into an expert in your chosen field.

Evaluating whether the startup has growth opportunities for you as a PM

One of the key aspects of why I joined a startup is the opportunity to see exponential growth in my career. Ideally, I wanted to join a company where I have the opportunity to do more than just one job. You, too, may be thinking in this direction ( Definitely you are -why would you be reading this article anyway?).

As a novice Product Manager, in the beginning, you'll be doing all sorts of things from helping with customer support to designing the product itself. This is a great way to learn a lot about a company and its culture. But it's also a way for the company to test you out before offering you a more permanent position. And while this may not be a bad thing, it's important to think about what the hiring manager might be looking for in a candidate -

  • Are they looking for someone who will be able to drive the revenue of a product?

  • Are they looking for someone who can design a product?

  • Or are they looking for someone who knows how to manage a team?

You can clear all these doubts with the hiring team when you are interviewing with any startup. These will also serve as a good conversation topic when the team asks the inevitable - "Do you have questions for us?"

Knowing what's in it for the company and for you as an employee

You want to make sure you understand why the product exists, who your customers are, and what you plan to do with your product and the market. You also want to make sure that you understand who your manager is, what the company's goals are, and where the company is headed in the next year or two. Going through the hiring process, you should have been able to glean some of this information, but it's important to go a step further and ask your manager some of these questions in person. It's also important to make sure that the company has a clear vision for the product and where it's heading.

Knowing what's in store for the product currently

Whatever products you're managing, you need to know what's currently happening with them. You need to understand how they're performing and if they're making money. You also need to be aware of any major changes. If a new feature has been added or a new competitor has entered the market, you need to know about it. Let's say you're managing a social networking product. You want to make sure you understand how the product works and how it's different from other social networking products. You also want to understand what other companies are doing with social networking and what's the latest trend. You want to see where the market is headed and be able to predict what might happen next.

Deciding if you want to join based on everything you know now

If after reading through this article, you're still thinking about joining a startup, chances are you got the answer you were looking for. But remember, joining a startup is a big decision. It will change your life, and it's not something you should take lightly. If you're thinking of making the leap, you want to make sure you join the right startup. It should be a company that is growing and could see exponential success in the future. That company should also be a good fit for you as a person. It should be a place where you can see yourself thriving for many years to come.