October 18, 2021

How and when to hire your first product manager


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It is the age of start-ups. Progress and expansion of the internet have opened this opportunity for everyone to start their own small ventures. The first person to manage the product in any start-up is the CEO himself/herself. Slowly they start to bring more people to handle the business, these people can vary from a few people to dozens of people. With the growing business, a product manager becomes the need of time.

When do you need a Product Manager

When the business starts to take off, there are so many experts who become a part of it. There are product designers who are needed to improve the product, then there are marketing people to market the product to make it further successful. Then the startup needs a sales team too to handles the sales of the product. All these people have one work to create a product which consumer wants to buy.

With this huge team, it is hard for one person to manage all the things all by himself.  When you have this big team there are so many tasks involved such as, company representation externally, raising funds, and then there are logistics that have to be handled on daily basis. All these responsibilities are too much for the CEO. This is the time when the company needs to hire its very first product manager. This manager will share the responsibilities with the CEO. The product manager can be from the existing team too by promoting them.

Duties of Product Manager

The duties of a product manager are the same he\ she was hired for. The product manager represents the company outside whenever needed and also helps with handling the day-to-day logistics of the company. There are fundraisers which have to be driven by PM. Simply product manager has to be everywhere, even the places where CEO cant go. It is a very extensive job so you need to hire a perfect suit for this vacancy.

Skills of a Product Manager

No matter if this is your first or tenth product manager, there are few skills that are a must-have for this post. These are those important skills that can not be skipped while hiring a product manager.

  • The product manager should have a vision that is articulate enough to be implemented in the company.
  • Pm should be able to develop a road map on the basis of the vision.
  • Gather funds intelligently
  • Lastly, the product manager should be able to execute the ideas by using the gathered funds carefully.

These skills might sound easy in reading but are very hard to achieve. It is a tough job to find one person with all these skills. At the beginning of any new business, most of the tasks revolve around the execution of the designed road map. The product manager has to go all in to get things done. There would be so many gaps in the beginning which will be filled by this position named product manager. The first product manager should be understanding the factors involving in a new business.

For starters, an early PM should be particularly attuned to the balance between chasing growth and getting the overall product in a stable position. Making this tradeoff of resources is often contentious, but startups can ignore overall product health for only so long. A product leader needs to develop a framework to make these decisions.

When a company is getting started, most product efforts are binary builds (a.k.a. “We just gotta build this out”). It’s taking a product from 0 to 1, defining it from scratch. The first PM should think through building an A/B framework to test ideas and inform these foundational product decisions.

In addition to building a product, the first PM is building a team. She needs to think through the cadence of the team and understand how to evolve that cadence as the team expands. She also needs to know when and where to place milestone markers for the team to tie the work to actual, relevant results.

The Hiring of first Product Manager

Interviewing and hiring a product manager is a tedious process. There are few rules to follow while interviewing the candidates for the product manager position. These are few tips to keep in mind during the interview process.

  • Make sure the interview is conducted in person and not remotely.
  • First of all, check the candidate for his\ her thinking about a problem. The approach to the problem is more important than any right answer.
  • Your first product designer should have very strong concepts. There is a lot of start from zero points in a new business and that would require a person with strong conceptualization.
  • The candidate should be result-oriented. Whatever the approach is product manager should have an idea about the final outcomes.

All these things in a product manager indicate how good he\ she would be at tackling problems coming to their ways. There is no right answer to all the questions asked in the interview, it is all about the perspective and result-oriented approach. How good candidates’ judgment is what brings them to be at the top. This is the hardest and most important skill to access.

Bottom Line

It is established by now that a product manager is critical for your company. A product manager can be anyone as long as he already has a good record at building organizations from scratch. It can be a very experienced person or a younger person with a lot of ambitions and some experience with brand building. The person should be loyal too.

As your start-up grows, the product manager grows with it. It sounds like an easy task but it is not. There are very people in the business who are able to stick through the whole process and like to contribute in the early stages of a business. A good choice of the product manager is the key to the bright future of your newly started business.