To get your company to where it is right now, you probably already have some sort of product development team. But more often than not, it's the entrepreneur who's in charge of leading that team. Maybe you can take on the role for now, but it can be productive for the company to have someone who's spending all their time with the product. You've got to meet with investors, partners, potential integrators, and a million other people - doesn't it just make sense to have someone dedicated to actually making the improvements you've been thinking about for the past few months?
That's where hiring a Product Lead comes in, and it's one of the most vital startup roles as your company grows and various departments start to take shape. This person is going to be your product expert and take charge of the roadmap. They'll prioritize improvements and iterate on your product, while you focus on getting buy-in from other people. Your Product Lead can help turn your vision into a reality by focusing on the technical side of things and allocating the necessary resources.
Like any key position in a small business, a particular set of personality traits are commonly found in successful Product Lead positions. When you're ready to get someone on board, here's what you might want to consider:
- This person has to know your vision for the future of the product, and may also want to contribute to that vision. The dev team will work out the details, but your Product Lead should be ready to take on the big-picture plans.
- Depending on the product, some Product Leads have to flex their relationship skills to work well with vendors or partners. In other companies, it's all about looking at the product with a critical eye to determine areas of improvement. Someone who excels in one of these skills may not be amazing at the other, so you’ll need to prioritize what’s more important to your specific business.
- They're going to be under a fair amount of stress. While they plan for future releases, there are also immediate fixes that need to be implemented. Your Product Lead should be able to handle competing priorities without getting overwhelmed.
- You've gotten your company to where it is by thinking in a way that nobody else has. If you're going to hand over the product reigns to someone else, they'll have to think like that too. Make sure they're an outside-the-box thinker so solutions stay innovative.
Pro Tip: When you're ready to start interviewing, check out our interview process template infographic!
You've spent a lot of time leading the pack on all fronts, and it can be stressful to start letting other people take charge. It's important to remember that this process doesn't have to be rushed - it's better to find the right person for each of your startup roles the first time around, instead of gambling on someone who only marginally fits the bill. In that regard, consider the personality traits above as you start looking for a Product Lead - more often than not, someone with these traits will do you and your company proud. Good luck on your next hire!