When we talk about growth in Product-Led-Growth, we mean scaling, i.e. increasing user adoption and engagement. There is something really enticing about a product that gains momentum through (product) design and not through (marketing) effort. Yet, growing too early is still the main cause of startup failure. So here’s a 5-point checklist to help you prepare your product (and yourself) for growth.

1 Establish a strong product-market fit and understand how and why it happens

If your product is not a good match for your target market, no amount of growth strategy, tactics or execution will help. Without this fit, the market will either reject the product or create false growth (with a very leaky acquisition funnel).

The bare minimum you need to validate is the problem you are trying to solve, the solution you want to solve it with, the market you want to sell it to, and the willingness to pay (preferably at a certain price point) at a statistically reasonable level. (If you are just starting out, it might be a challenge to conduct statistically sound research).

The bare minimum you need to understand is where users see value in your product, why they see it there, what aspects of your product are indispensable, and who those users are.

With this information, you will be able to fine-tune your product targeting and positioning, onboarding experience and mid-term plan (see point 5).

2 Make sure your users get the core user experience before they leave

Onboarding is where you will lose most potential users. Very few people will return if they did not go through the onboarding process the first time. Experiment with the onboarding process early on and refine it until you can deliver the key user value to the user before they abandon.

3 Decide what matters and define key metrics

At this point, your goal is to make sure the product works really well for some people. Set your metrics to define what matters, to have a baseline against which you can fine-tune your tactics and goals, and most importantly, — to see if your product is delivering the user value you expect.

Remember to enrich your data with qualitative research for deeper insights. Data without context is rarely useful. So make sure you understand the ‘why’, not just the ‘what’.

4 Start building your community and acquisition sources early

Your greatest assets are the people who recognise the value of your product even before you can provide it — your early adopters, champions and critics. Not only will these people give you plenty of feedback and suggestions, but will also build confidence in your product. Keep them engaged, especially if you are offering a technical or B2B product.

Start developing your acquisition sources much earlier than you think makes sense. By starting early, you can gradually nurture these relationships. This will lead to a more solid foundation of trust and credibility when it’s time to convert prospects into customers.

5 Plan for future product development

Create a roadmap for future product enhancements. To evolve your product, you need to know how you can improve the experience for your current users (increasing user engagement and retention) and what features will attract new customers (expanding into new segments). How can the product be improved so that existing users benefit even more? Who would benefit from the product but is not using it? Which features are they missing?

6 And now: Scale! 🙂