PM skills to sharpen in small startup to become more attractive for next opportunity

Last year I joined a small, bootstrapped startup (< 7 people). While this gig is tolerable, it is not fulfilling. I’m thinking I can use my current job as a launchpad for my next opportunity. (At the very least, perhaps in the pursuit of that goal I can reignite some fire in myself and others and turn things around a bit.) Because the founder is a bit checked out and lacks vision, I’m able to mold my role quite a bit to what I’d like it to be.

I’ve previously mostly worked as a marketer and conversion optimizer, so the roles that often seem to attract me most are growth pm roles. I also have a preference for roles that skew towards an “owner” orientation over a “facilitator” orientation.

What are skills I can hone, or accomplishments I can try to rack up in a small startup, that would make my profile more attractive for my next gig?

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Market research, UI/UX, data analysis, strategic planning, agile development, PM tools, leadership, A/B testing, product development/management, etc.

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@NaomiNwosu, This is great! Could you give some more concrete examples of the type of thing you have in mind under some of these categories. They’re quite broad so some specifics would be really helpful! Thanks.

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@CathrynCiu, Sure. Market research would include conducting competitive analysis, understanding your customers’ needs and pain points, and identifying new opportunities.

UI/UX includes wireframing and prototyping or at least understanding the best practices for the best UX.

Strategic planning as an creating and prioritizing the product roadmap.

Data analysis as an understanding the key metrics using your analytic tools, identifying success metrics, and making decisions based on data.

Leadership as an being able to collaborate and rally cross-functional teams (I.e. engineering and marketing team) to develop and release new products and features.

I can go on, but it’ll be a wall of text. I think these areas are a good starting point for core PM skills. Hope that helps!

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Love it! Thanks so much for expanding.

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Something that will land in future interviews is if you build up some sort of good repeatable product process from the ground up. Like, you guys previously did X user interviews a month and you made the case to change that pace to Y plus started collecting data on Z which altered how your company started building stuff.

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@Felipe, This is exactly the type of thing I’m looking for. Super helpful. Thanks!

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This is a great opportunity for you. I would recommend targeting the companies where you want to work, talking to PMs there and focusing your career development towards those specific roles. There’s just too much to learn and you don’t want to waste any time. Good luck!

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To expand on this. Reaching out to prospective company’s employees can sometimes lead to a referral bonus for them. So, fire away. Worst thing they’ll do is ignore you.

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Great points! Any suggestions on places to do this kind of outreach?

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There are many social media platforms where you can reach out, and the most popular as you know is, LinkedIn.

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Hey @Naomi. Thanks for your awesome contribution to the conversation! I’m wondering if you have any tools or methods that would help one better understand and implement market research?

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You’re welcome @BethanyGrey! You can work closely with your marketing team on tools and strategies on market research. Some things that helped me were doing SWOT analysis or identify features from competitors, running email campaigns to get feedback from customers in a form of surveys (typically after an order is completed), if your company uses trustpilot or any other platforms where customers can leave reviews, take advantage of that. You can always do user interviews to ask a set of questions and obtain feedback from customers. On the analytics side, our company uses Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics to track metrics. Other companies may use other tools for analytics. Data can help you see the product health and identify opportunities for improvement. Lastly, if your company has a customer success department, utilize them as resources to get some customer insight. Hope that helps.

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Thank you @Naomi, for that thorough response! I’m not working in an industry with a marketing team yet and I’m looking towards becoming a PM so picking up skills on the side. I will be doing some more research with all the information you’ve given! Thank you for your time and help!