Discover more from Insanely Great Strategy
Product-Soul Fit before Product-Market Fit
PMF with Soul
Startups obsess about product-market fit (PMF). Even post-PMF, businesses continue to poke, prod and adjust PMF as they look to expand or scale (e.g. a move upmarket, downmarket, adjacent, etc.).
It makes sense - you don’t have a real business without it.
This obsession manifests as continuous testing, learning, iterating in a race against time for market validation.
It’s a framework we all know and love.
I’d like to present an alternative framework.
It still requires obsessing about PMF, but this is not where you begin. You do not start by seeking outside validation.
Instead, you pull your focus inwards. Deeply and just as obsessively.
I call this product-soul fit (PSF).
PSF requires you to answer the following simple questions:
What sets my soul on fire?
What do I want to see in the world?
Simple but deeply introspective. The answers that really mean anything (for you and/or your founding team) need to come from the depths of your soul. They should not be rationalizations or deductions from your logical mind.
You will know this by how they make you feel. The right answers will genuinely excite you. They should feel electric. You’ll just know, “this is the thing”.
For those for which this resonates, you probably already know, or the answers have been (hidden) deep in you all along - perhaps dismissed/ignored as a little crazy, impractical or infeasible. This probably isn’t the first time you’ve considered them.
This is more than just passion. PSF is a magical confluence of passion, purpose, and a cause worth devoting your life to. Something that could become your life’s work.
This is your intuition telling you what needs to be birthed in the world, by you (or your team) for an adventure of a lifetime.
Once you have PSF, you will still need to figure out PMF.
But your approach to PMF will be very different.
Your PSF becomes your non-negotiable. Certain product or market ideas will be immediately ruled out because they no longer resonate with your answers above. There may still be market exploration needed, but within a significantly narrower space.
Your PSF will make it easier to say no (and also make it easier to recognize “hell yes!”).
Your investment or prioritization of PSF should make your PMF journey easier because you now get to navigate with a strong inner compass. A compass pointing straight to your soul.
I was working with a startup recently that was grappling with PMF. After several pivots they found themselves in the Design AI space, and quickly built a pretty decent MVP with some existing tools. But there was still a bit of a struggle with PMF and which verticals to test - consumers, or professionals like interior designers, realtors, contractors, content generators, etc.?
The typical PMF fog hung over the team as they pondered the vastness of the exploration space, and where/how they could bring value.
I asked them about PSF.
The founders were deeply passionate about simplicity, beauty in home decor and organization positively uplifting people’s mood, peace and ultimately life. This was the original impetus to start the company.
The PSF sliced through the clutter. There was some clarity again. There was excitement again as they rediscovered their inner compass.
As expected, some verticals were ruled out immediately because they did not resonate with their PSF. Others bubbled to the top. The team quickly pulled together a plan and immediate action steps.
The fog started to lift.
This doesn’t mean PMF was immediately solved. There was still lots of work ahead, there may be more pivots, but the PSF will always be there to ground and guide them.
PSF is not for everyone.
But if something about setting your soul on fire, connecting with your inner wisdom resonates with you, there is probably something here for you.
PSF is PMF with soul. It allows you to impress your intuition of how the world should be on reality, without it only being about what the world wants. A balanced marriage of your soul’s desires with the reality of the market.
If you feel this, if you know there are deep answers within you, this is your sign it’s time to put your PSF into practice.
Seeking Extraordinary for your Product? See Artsgy.
New to Insanely Great Strategy? Subscribe below, or read more novel and weird ideas in Product/Strategy.