Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in leadership development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mike Belsito, Co-Founder of Product Collective, located in Cleveland, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Product Collective is a community for tech Product Managers. We serve the community in many ways throughout the year, including our live in-person and virtual conferences (like INDUSTRY: The Product Conference, INDUSTRY Virtual, and the New York Product Conference), as well as our Product Collective Pro membership program.
Tell us about yourself
I've worked in early-stage technology companies my entire career -- as an early employee, executive, and founder. But it wasn't until I exited from my last startup company that I discovered that I had unknowingly been a product person. For most people working in product management at technology companies, we didn't know that we would be product people. We didn't go to school for product management. Most of us ended up in our roles seemingly by chance. When I was recruited for my first product role, I thought to myself, "But how do I even know if I'm doing this right?" That exact mindset is what eventually led me and my partner, Paul, to launch Product Collective. We figured that there were others who thought this way, too. It turned out that we were right. Today, Product Collective serves 45,000+ product people through our weekly newsletter -- and many more who take part in our programs or attend our conferences. We're grateful to be serving Product Managers and Product Leaders who, like we once were, find themselves craving a community that can help them learn, build a strong network, and find inspiration to build better products.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We're most proud to have built one of the largest independent communities of Product Managers by bootstrapping the business completely and remaining profitable from the beginning.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner is knowing how to prioritize and when to find others to step in and take over work that was, at one time, important for you to handle personally.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find a way to get started quickly -- even if it's on the side of a full-time job that you already have. Every assumption you have about your business idea will be tested -- and many of them will be proven wrong. But you will only know this once you get started.
- While some businesses are more suitable for venture funding, do what you can to plan your business out to be profitable from the beginning. It may not be possible for some business types. But challenge yourself to find a way to make it profitable even in the beginning stages. If you can find early profitability, then venture funding becomes a choice... not a necessity.
- Rather than do so many things for so many people -- find a way to be the best in the world at one single thing for one very well-defined group of people. Even if the market is small and "niche," -- so long as you have fans who are paying you, you can find a way to grow and expand.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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