Startup roadmap: no depth no iceberg

Once you know your strengths, have picked a team that covers your weaknesses, and have an agreed upon strategic goal, then every entrepreneur needs a roadmap.

A roadmap is another one of those words that gets thrown around in the start-up community; but it means little if it lacks depth. Think of an iceberg. The idea is the tip, but with no depth there is no iceberg.

No iceberg no business.

A roadmap covers everything below the water. It provides, in detail, a solution that has legs and scales. It lays out the traps, and helps create a decision tree along with what and when items should be negotiated.

Entrepreneurs and teams that move forward without one risk becoming roadkill (a note here: the possibility of pivoting is not an excuse not to put in the time and work required).

The roadmap

Even though every startup must focus on solving immediate problems they have to seed relationships with the constituents that will help them scale once an entry point has been achieved. How can you decide who and how you will work with to grow without the future being mapped out?

Constituents are not limited to customers. The roadmap is not limited to a product. It includes all the players in the ecosystem you intend to play in. They range from customers, to employees, to business partners, to technology partners, to investors and shareholders, all organized around your offering.

A minimum grouping includes:

  1. Customers at every stage of growth
  2. Employees at every stage of growth
  3. Partners that get you to the end user at every stage of growth
  4. Shareholders and investors at every stage of growth

And then the “tip” — the feature or product you will seed the market with. Yes — I put the product last because without well managed constituents you will not establish value or have the legs to grow.

Understanding that a business is made of layers, that decisions have to be made that move all constituents forward at the same time, and managing these constituents to the end same game when conflicts arise, can land you boxed in, in a corner, even if the product you have built is worth its weight in gold.

So before turning the key make sure you do the research, develop a layered roadmap, and have a good understanding of the decisions you will need to make and the outcome hesitating or ignoring decisions will have on your future.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Thoughts and opinions are my own.