Start-ups require direction and focus. They need a clear path that takes them from sketches in a notebook to a thriving enterprise. Start-ups also have dual demands competing for the same pool of resources: the need to create the product and the need to create the business.
It is a founder’s responsibility to lay out and navigate the journey and get the business and the product to their destination. That's where a clear business roadmap comes in.
While it seems straightforward, the path ahead is usually unclear and, on the way, you'll be pulled in different directions by any number of needs that arise.
A good roadmap is a good place to begin. All start-ups need two roadmaps: a business roadmap and a product roadmap.
The business roadmap is, without doubt, the more important of the two. This roadmap covers all the key areas of the business including cash flow, financials, growth strategies and fundraising. You need to plan out your key milestones and be conservative with your targets. It's better to surprise your investors with the upside than the downside.
Next, you need to plan how you're going to hit the growth targets, and how you're going to raise funds. You won’t know the details from the beginning. It takes time and trial and error. Testing and retesting. This is how you learn; this is how you become a market leader.
Your product is the reason your business exists. Its development should be more than a wish list of features. If your product doesn’t impress or inspire your customers, the whole business is for nothing.
Your product roadmap should be able to deliver results. It should align with your business roadmap and aim to achieve the same strategic direction. Ensure they don’t conflict. Also, avoid key product milestones occurring at the same time as business milestones. You won’t have the resources to do both simultaneously.
TAKEAWAY: Your start-up needs a business roadmap and a product roadmap. These need to be in alignment and work in the same direction. As a founder, it is your job to map out the way forward and move successfully towards your strategic objectives.