PM Essence
Are Product Managers Future Entrepreneurs?
By – Pinkesh Shah
(“This article is reproduced with permission from IEEE Fusion”)

Product Management is more of a mindset change.


“Product Management has many definitions but most experts will agree that its essentially the art & science of delivering delighting solutions to real market problems and doing it rather predictably.”


So if a Product Manager is supposed to


Get customer insights


Validate a proposed solution


Develop a business/monetization model


Develop specifications/requirements for teams to build a delighting solution


Help launch and figure out the go to market strategy


then, how is it different from what an entrepreneur ends up doing?


Here is my take on how Product Managers need slightly different skills than an entrepreneur –


a. Leadership Skills – Conflict management, stakeholder management, influence building. Product Managers have to influence multiple stake holders for decision making, hence leadership skills are more critical.


b. Internal vs External – Product Managers have to spend more time internal to the company compared to an entrepreneur who might be completely customer/market focused (funded startups have Boards to answer as well but time investments are lower)


c. Plumber vs Oil Digger – As a Product Manager you have potentially lots of resources that you need to be aware of and know how to leverage (existing customers, brand, sales force, budgets etc.). So the key thing here is to “connect” the right pipes in the organization so oil falls in your bucket as opposed to dig for oil (find early adopters, investors etc.)


d. Risk Appetite – Emotionally a Product Manager might be less attached to the business as personal wealth is not at stake (reputation is on the line though!). A good Product Manager should have the right passion for the product and a good entrepreneur knows when to quit and pivot based on market feedback! While there are differences in skillsets, the end goal for both seems to be aligned – “delivering value”.


So at the end, is it fair to say that Product Managers are Future Entrepreneurs?