The magical word in lean start-up entrepreneurship is product/market fit. When starting a new company, you may have the most competent people, the best management in the world, enough capital, the best business plan, the right market trend etc., but if you don’t have the product/market fit, none of the things listed above can really help you.
Product/market fit means that you have the right product for the right market. It means that you are solving a problem that people are willing to pay for, or that you are satisfying a certain segment of customers with a very specific need. All this in a way that’s different to the competition. It means that you have good knowledge of the market needs and are flexible enough that when it comes to your business idea, you can adjust it according to the customer’s demands.
As an entrepreneur you know very well when the product/market fit is achieved in the phase of development of your business idea. Namely, it’s when you stop needing to ask yourself whether you have a product/market fit. On the right market, customers themselves are the ones to help you find the right solution. When you are facing all other problems except for a lack of inquiries, you have found the right product/market fit.
Find your personal fit
Personal life is no different. In my younger years, I visited a fortune-teller as a joke, and asked if I’m dating the true love of my life. She had answered that if the love were true, I would know and wouldn’t be asking her that. Of course, this is an extreme example, since life isn’t entirely black and white, but it’s not that far off from the truth either. When you find the right fit for you, you don’t need to question yourself about meaning anymore (“Is this the one?”).
A prerequisite for a successful partnership is simply a partner/partner fit. It starts with a physical fit, just being unable to keep your hands off each other (and having extraordinary sex). It continues with an emotional, intellectual, spiritual one; that is to say, with conversations and tenderness late into the night. Well, it can also be the other way around or in any other order (physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual matching). Then it of course further continues with joint activities, sharing views on life, family goals, organizing household chores…
You can wish for a relationship to succeed as much as you’d like, you can try to “fix” stuff, but if two people don’t belong to/with each other, there are no basic foundations for building a successful relationship.
Same goes for work. You can work for one of the most respected companies in the world, are the best in your field, get paid well and enjoy many benefits, but if you don’t fit into the organization (in the company’s culture), you will be miserable and won’t feel good deep down inside. No matter how strongly you are trying to convince yourself otherwise.
You want to get rich? Find a cash flow that’s most suitable to your character and competences. This can be entrepreneurship, the stock market, network marketing, show business, sports… When you find the right cash flow fit and combine it with hard work, focus, new ideas and perseverance, then success happens.
Being physically fit is also incredibly important for the quality of your life and your potential. If you want to have more energy, enjoy the best sex of your life, feel well, have the ability to withstand more stress and pressure, be more attractive, feel better in your skin, you have to be fit. You have to find a sport that’s perfect for you.
Same goes for all other areas of your life. The prerequisite for being successful, no matter the field, is finding your own fit. Values (what you find important) are those that determine whether you fit with something or not. When you find the right fit, passion awakens in you. You find yourself in something. You know that you can be successful in this. You see potential.
You can easily hear something about a person who had found their fit. They were the right person at the right place at the right time. They were born to be a salesman. They’re really good at math. They hold the crowd’s attention with their sexuality and voice. They’re an excellent politician. They wield the racket extremely well. If only I knew how to do that…
Searching and trying is what causes you to fit with something. Once again: searching and trying (in start-up lingo we know the so called “search phase” or “the search mode”).
This brings about a lot of situations in which you don’t feel fit and have to go away – from people, organizations and situations. You have to admit a small failures to yourself over and over again. And each time you have to move on, it means pain. But this is only a step towards success; a step to the right fit. Finding your fit is a process. The cure for that kind of pain is appreciation – appreciation for having been able to try something and realize it’s not right for you.
One more important thing. The saying to fit in is mostly said with a negative connotation. Because it primarily concerns situations in which you are trying to be a part of a group, but wherein you still have your own values, inconsistent with those of the group. Think about the stereotypical situation of a high school girl trying to fit in with cheerleaders club and she is unhappy until she finds where she really belongs; and that is usually not the cheerleaders club.
When you think of fit in as negative (“I am really trying to fit in”), you aren’t honest with yourself what you really want in life and there will be no light at the end of the tunnel, meaning you will feel worse and worse over time among this specific group of people. In that case you definitely hadn’t found your fit. But when you feel extremely good saying it loud and clear, that you have found your fit, you are on the right track.
You have to search for it
Things used to be more or less obligatory, commanded – by the country, parents, the local church and whoever else (your environment). A larger part of our destiny had been defined, no matter the fit level. Once, it was expected from you to suffer, even though you weren’t fit for something. You simply didn’t have many options.
“The non-believer who will go to hell” – in case of being more interested in a different religion than your local community. “The betrayer of the country and the nation” – if you moved to a different country liking it much more than the country where you were born. “The unreliable individual who changes jobs without a reason” – if you simply didn’t want to do the same job as your parents or didn’t feel good in a series of companies. “The neighbor who got divorced” – my parents got divorced in the 80s and it was perceived as a very negative event. But in reality if they didn’t they would probably kill each other. And so on. I am exaggerating of course, but just to make a point.
Today, it’s clear that it’s not right for you to suffer. The other side (partner, company, country…) is suffering as well if you are suffering. The whole world is suffering. There is no combination for a positive result.
Let me give you an example. If you work for a company where you don’t fit in, what will happen? You won’t be motivated to work hard, you will be talking negative about the company to your colleagues and other people, and you won’t like and encourage coworkers, you will hate your boss and so on. The company will be suffering as well as you. It’s a clear lose – lose situation that doesn’t make any sense.
Today, in the world of many options, you yourself is often the only reason for suffering the non-fit. Your character. Your decisions. Your lack of adaptability. Your stubbornness. Your fears. Your infatuation with the fact that the world should change right where you are standing, instead of you finding those parts that fit you best.
When you find your fit, this doesn’t mean that all your problems are solved. Finding your fit isn’t a miracle solution. Far from it. It only means that you have found something that holds true potential. You find something you can build upon and look forward to it. It is then that you pass on from searching to hard work.
There’s also never a one true fit, regardless of all Hollywood movies and the promised shortcuts that appeal to our laziness. There are always parts where frictions exists, and that’s good. These small bumps that don’t fit are an opportunity for growth.
But if you are somewhere where you totally don’t fit in, this is slowly killing you inside, until you become a zombie and kill your own dreams, ambitions, motivations, energy, and potential inside you. Then you are in a situation when you die before you are actually dead. You become bitter, tired and search for a way out. And that’s something you don’t want, trust me.
This is why life has equipped you with a compass that shows you whether you are on the right path. Life gave you a sensor that tells you whether you fit in and you have only to work hard to reach your goals, or whether there is no fit and you will remain miserable and dissatisfied no matter how much you try, regardless of all your moves; if you don’t invest your energy into finding the better fit of course.
The compass is your feelings. Positive feelings mean that you are going in the right direction, regardless of the difficulty of the challenges, the amount of demanded input, the obstacles in front of you and possible failures. Negative feelings, such as sadness, depression, apathy, unhappiness, ignorance, lack of motivation, all show you that you aren’t in the right place. Behavioral patterns such as procrastination, indecisiveness etc. also indicate the same.
Fear shows that you have to face something in life, envy shows what you potentially want and where you potentially fit in, and anger can either show that you aren’t in the right place, aren’t doing what you want (anger at yourself), or that you have to try harder and find a new path (anger at others). If you listen to your heart and carefully observe your feelings, you know. The best way to observe your feelings is with the happiness chart.
Be proactive and find your fit
When you come to a point in your life where you realize all this, you are often already caught, stuck to certain parts, people and situations that don’t belong in your life.
The only employer who answered your request for work. The first partner you fell in love with or the first one who talked to you. The industry in which you have landed completely by accident. The first investor who offered you money for your business opportunity.
But the first options are rarely the right ones. The idea of love at first sight is a shortcut that appeals to human laziness, fear, comfort zone, and robs you of dignity to try for something better. You also want different things throughout your lifetime, thus no fit lasts forever. Every time you are dishonest with yourself or choose the easier path, negative feelings are waiting for you. Separation is never easy, but it is sometimes necessary and part of life.
You only have four options in a non-fit situations.
- The first and the hardest one is nirvana. The state in which all wishes and self-awareness disappear. You love everything the way it is, and feel perfect. But so far, 150 billion people have lived on our planet and only a handful reached nirvana. Maybe two, three. Good luck. Although the Zen mindset can help you a lot in everyday life.
- The second option is reactive behavior – staying where you are and suffering. You can decide to die before actually being dead, and resign to living like zombies; settle for what “you are given”, for what happened to you. But at the same time, point fingers at life and everyone else, saying how they are at fault for your misfortune because they aren’t the very thing that you want them to be.
- The third option is as popular as the second one. You naively hope that other people will change. You hope that the boss will be nicer. You hope that your partner will be more attentive to you and stop cheating, and that this weird period of theirs will end. You hope that your parents will understand you better. You hope that you will spontaneously find yourself in a better situation; because you deserve it, since you have such a good heart.
And yet. People don’t change. An organization’s values don’t change. Countries don’t change. The world doesn’t change. Situations don’t change by themselves. It’s ironic that the only constant of the world are changes, but in its essence, everything stays exactly the same. Only the mask is different. We advance, but we don't change. People don’t like real authentic change.
It’s true that we all are equipped with more and more knowledge. It is true that we try to tame the human nature into an increasingly more positive direction, with laws, transparency etc. It’s true that we have more and more advanced methods of communication, living, transport etc. But the foundations of humanity remain the same.
Let’s look at example. What used to be smoke turned to a letter, then IRC, then Messenger, is today Facebook and will be something else tomorrow. But in fact, all of these cases are actually ways of communication, only increasingly better and more efficient. Same goes for an individual’s character, which mostly stays the same in its essence. Rarely do individuals realize that they have to change something with themselves.
Just really think deeply of what it takes for someone to change. Usually a life or death experience. Maybe prison. Managers needs years of work and inhuman efforts to just slightly change the values of an organization. In countries, use of force, implementation of new laws or even a war are necessary for changes or new patterns of behavior. Internet has shown the biggest technological progress in the history of mankind. Millions of people contributed to its development, and yet more than 30 years were needed for it to reach the level it is at now.
If you are hoping that someone will change soon, and will be more to your liking – good luck with that. If you live with the conviction that you will change someone by nagging, badgering, whining, binding, fretting, dominating, and simultaneously achieve a positive relationship result, you are very wrong. It’s much more likely that people will push you away or start hating you. So you make even a step further away from the right or better fit.
4. The best and most sensible option is proactivity – finding a better fit. Sadly, or luckily, the case remains that the younger you are, the less locked into your life, the easier it is. It is also true that the more financial, intellectual, psychological, sexual and any other capital you have, the easier it is.
But regardless of everything, you always have a choice, you can always make a decision, there is always a move you can make to find things and people in your life that are a better fit.
Courage is needed for this. Willingness to face small failures. Readiness to survive disappointments. Preparedness for a broken heart. Again and again. You have to be willing to sail away from your comfort zone into the ocean of possibilities and opportunities. You have to be prepared for the adventure of life. Seek and you shall find. Where there is a strong enough will, there is always a way.
Your personal values aren’t (any longer) consistent with those of your partner, company you are working for, or your country. The voice inside you is telling you that this isn’t it. You experience negative emotions when you think of doing the same thing you are doing today, or being in the same situation in ten years. There is no interest for development by the other party.
You have four options, as described previously:
- Meditate away (change your view of the world and yourself)
- Suffer (and point fingers)
- Hope for others to change (suffer and prepare for a big disappointment)
- Try to change others by nagging and fretting (double the disappointment above)
- Find a better fit and distance yourself where that isn’t possible
But when you are making big changes like that do them as fair as possible for all the parties. Nevertheless if something isn't your fit, pivot!
What if there is no fit for me?
At the end one more question appears: what if there is no right fit for me? Oh well. The world has about 3.5 billion people of the opposite gender, millions of organizations that are employing, dozens of religions, sports, subcultures, industries, diets, possibilities for income etc. The only obstacle preventing you from finding the right fit for yourself is usually only laziness, fear, comfort zone, a lack of resources at a given moment, and other similar reasons.
Basically you transfer the power (and decisions) from your hands into those of a higher power, the country, parents, boss or whoever else there might be. You put yourself in the position of a helpless victim. Don’t do that, keep all your personal power.
Experience the wide variety of options
Don’t hope for others to change. Don’t hope that the world will change to be more to your liking just because of your ego. Don’t suffer deep down inside, and don’t blame others for situations that don’t meet your standards. You have decided for this yourself. A big exception are children in dysfunctional families, people living in poverty, and people who suffered from accidents. In these cases, the task for all of us is to give opportunities and options; offer support to all those who find themselves in such a situation and don’t have the possibility of choice.
In short, for everyone else – gather courage and embark on an adventure. Systematically, gradually, without compromise. Find a better fit in all areas of life. And then build an even better one.
Build something you will admire and be proud of. But in the meantime, prepare for searching, trying and of course, a disappointment here and there. Maybe even a lot of disappointments. Nevertheless, this is the only path to the dream partner, dream job, the perfect environment and fulfilment in life.
Look at the world as an infinite varied palette of possibilities; as a park or a playing field where all of us can connect, create, contribute, learn, experience, meet, change. Especially with those people who have similar values, with those people who share your vision, who are prepared to grow and try new things.
Fit in is paradise and non-fit is hell on Earth.
First fit in. Then stand out.
Finally, you find yourself wondering whether it is not more sensible to stand out than to try to belong with a group. It’s absolutely not right to try to conform to a group. As said before, you have to find something that’s close to you and then build on it. By adding value, you essentially have to stand out, create something new.
It used to be that an individual was simply able to step away from “average” by being different from something that was commanded or expected. Today, no things are specifically expected or commanded like that. Today, the developed world already has diversity.
Today you stand out by piecing your life together completely individually, like a puzzle, from all that fits best for you. And on top of that, you add value with your innovativeness, unique outlook and hard work.
Here is a homework you should do. Analyze if you have found your fit on the all areas of life listed below. As we mentioned in the beginning, you can always feel when fit isn’t happening on a certain area of your life.
- Your environment – country, city, home, office etc.
- Your diet
- The sports you do
- Your spouse
- Your friends
- Your coworkers
- Your career
- The way you earn money
- Your investments
- Your competences
- Things you do to enjoy life
- Your religion or spirituality
- Technology you use
- Other areas important to you
First fit in. Then stand out.