From the moment you release a product, to the point that you establish yourselves as a dominant player, there are 4 stages – let's call them 4 days (in spirit of Jeff Bezos' Day-1 philosophy).
Assuming funding is taken care of, for day-1 and day-2...
Day-1 – You did a ton of work, and..
beta-release your product.
it feels like you have a product-market fit, but you most likely don't.
launch your website, social pages and start a mailing-list.
introduce your product/solution to significant number of potential buyers in your market (by mail, social, events or in person).
Your team is super proud of doing something amazing for the world.
Day-2 – You are spreading the word, talking to stakeholders, and..
Customers ponder, compare your solution with alternatives, but don't yet buy.
Competitors take note of your product. Prepare for battle.
Flaws in your product are reported, and cracks (hopefully fixable) in your product-strategy emerge.
Remember that feeling about the product-market fit? It's getting closer, but you still don't have it. Don't over do it though – you won't be able to satisfy everybody.
You may need to pivot your business-model. Talk to a lot of people and explain to them the problems you are seeing. Here's where your network of peers (founders and business owners) comes handy.
You hit feelings of dejection as a founder, and struggle to keep your team motivated, in anticipation of better times.
You should have by now stated to talk to a 100 potential buyers (and multiples thereof) since Day-1, to eventually sign up 3 heading in to Day-3. The other 97 will give you feedback, or you take it zealously from them.
Day-3 – You keep working hard, and finally..
Paying customers arrive.
You target breakeven, and start to scratch profitability.
You continue to fight emerging competition, either to strongly differentiate yourselves from them, or kill them.
You have achieved product-market fit.
Congratulations, you are a living business at this point.
Day-4 – it's time to consolidate..
You aim to maximise margins.
You aim to maximise market-share. Aim for 40-50%, so that you can lead pricing in the market, take the best customers, and maintain highest possible profitability for supporting future growth.
If you have survived the 4 days, and succeeded in building a sustainably profitable business, you will be attractive to potential buyers. If you want, you can exit.
You could die on any day.
Actually, startups are born dead. Every customer, employee, product, investor and business-partner pours a little life into it. With time, your goal as an entrepreneur is to pour enough life into your company, and nurture it into growing into a self-sustained healthy organisation.
Finally, if you are raising external capital, make sure you are have enough money on the bank account for all 4 stages, in a mix of external funding + own cashflow.
Domination is Important – Why Domination?
It is important to be at the #1 spot and own a large chunk of the market, because it's safer at the top and your survival is more resilient.
Also, you may have noted that usually only the top-3 players are usually profitable. Everybody else hangs in there for survival. Operating-systems: Windows and Apple, aircraft manufacturers: Boeing and Airbus, Smartphones: Apple, Samsung and Huawei, Search-engines: Google, and well, only Google. Need more examples?
No matter which market we play in, ensure to occupy the top-3 positions, ideally the #1.