30 Simple Questions

While exploring the blogosphere this evening, I came across a useful post on Sramana Mitra’s blog titled “Clarify Your Story: Internet Businesses.” It’s a good list of about 30 high-level questions you should be asking yourself when starting a new internet business.

What struck me most about this list is that it’s completely transferrable to product management… these are the same questions product managers ask (or should ask) themselves when building new products or lines of business. (I like to think that product managers at established companies are essentially micro-entrepreneurs backed by company cash flow… While the dynamics and risk/reward profiles can be vastly different, PMs, like many entrepreneurs, are responsible for generating positive business results through product innovation.)

In fact, thinking through some products of underwhelming success (some that I’ve worked on), I can clearly tie the lack of success to an overlooked question on this list. For example, “How do you build traffic?” That’s a gem… Even the most brilliant products are difficult to sustain without a flowing source of traffic, yet traffic generation is often an afterthought. “What is your differentiated value proposition?” We may be in another bubble because this one is not scrutinized enough.

Anyhow, I’m sure there are a dozen similar, potentially better, checklists out there. But this one seems like a great starting point for the entrepreneur in us all.


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