Roadmaps for Startup FoundersFeb 22, 2021
Even Seasoned Founders Need Guidance
Unless they are very familiar with the route, most drivers need a map or GPS to reach their destination. Even if you have driven to your destination many times, it often still helps to have some navigation assistance if you end up taking a different route because of traffic or an unplanned pitstop.
Most Founders Have Little or No Direct Experience
Startup founders face the same challenges. Most founders have never built a successful startup with a healthy exit. Even those entrepreneurs that have enjoyed a startup exit can benefit from navigation guidance because they may face a different landscape, or a different journey in their second or third startup. Founders who attempt to drive in new territory without a map face a perilous journey with a high risk of getting lost, or worse, causing an accident.
New Environments Require New Skills
I remember renting a car for a week on my first business trip to England. I knew it would be dicey, but with over 30 years of driving experience in the US, a keen sense of direction and pretty good eye-hand coordination, I thought I could handle it. When I finally sat down to drive in the UK, I realized I underestimated the difficulty of the task. I faced many challenges I did not expect. The road markings and street signs were different. I had to learn to drive on the opposite site of the road. I also had little experience navigating a roundabout, especially one with multiple lanes and more than three exits.
If that wasn’t enough, I was surprised how difficult it was to drive a manual transmission car and work the gear shift with my left hand instead of my right. It didn’t help that the turn signal lever was on the opposite side of the steering column, so every third time I wanted to make a turn, I mistakenly activated the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal. At least the car’s foot pedals were in the same place!
I Now Know What I’m Doing … NOT!
After my experience in the UK, I felt even more confident that I could drive a rental car in Melbourne, Australia. That is, until I ran a red light while trying to figure out a strange 5-way intersection. And then I ran into something that really blew my mind: I came to an intersection where I had to make a “hook turn”, which I’d never seen before. To make a right turn, you get in the LEFT LANE??? WHAT?!?
Why Founders Need an Execution Roadmap
I learned from these experiences the value of a map, help with non-intuitive tasks, tools such as a GPS, and training from someone who knew the local landscape. We built our Startup Execution Roadmap infographic with exactly this in mind.
What, When and How
Our Startup Execution Roadmap lists seven phases in the life of a startup company from formation to exit. It provides a conceptual view of the business and funding journeys to help founders in their high-level planning. The funding journey is shown as a parallel set of tasks, which is how most startups have to manage their fundraising. Each of the eight major phases — seven on the business journey and one on the funding journey — includes several key tasks that are addressed in each respective phase. The roadmap also lists five factors that are critical to startup success:
This Startup Execution Roadmap aligns with our Startup Execution Blueprint, which provides low-level detail on specific tasks and guidance on how to execute these tasks. Where the roadmap provides an executive-level view of the Vision, the blueprint provides a builder-level view of the Strategy, Execution and Metrics that make the vision possible. If you’re not familiar with the Vision, Strategy, Execution, and Metrics (VSEM) framework, you can read about it here.
Get Your Startup Execution Roadmap
Our Startup Execution Roadmap is the product of diligent research and years of real-world operating experience. Even though I planned, designed and built the infographic, I still frequently use it to guide my own work and to teach the founders I coach. Download it from our Basic Tier and use it to plan, guide and manage the growth of your own startup.