The road to success is always under construction. And nine 9 out of 10 roads trying to merge onto it wind up with “Road closed” sign on them.
Building startup includes many stages such as lying its component, difference between the core, virtual and commodity component, how to build your initial product, etc, etc. But during the process, when the founders reach the stage of executing the vision, they usually forgot the entire end goal.
Its time to step back and remind yourself of the whole picture, then embrace the challenge of keeping your early adopters satisfied while building your entire vision.
The VF Spectrum
Some of the founders are so focused that they can articulate the full scope of what they are building because the ideas may have locked in their head. But the majority of others get distracted at a later stage, either due to lack of budgetary resources or the full market research.
To avoid that situation, there is a tool what I call “Vision- Function Spectrum”.
There are always more than one audience for your product. Ofcourse, first is always your prospects, but they are not the only one.
In selling your solution, you are looking at a minimum of six audience. There will always be more if you include your current employees; you are always selling to them to either attract or retain them, or to talk more idealistic, to turn them into vocal advocates or fans of your product and company.
Here we have broken the spectrum into imaginative numbers - “001” and “002”.
001 is your first market venture, core product. 002 is your vision fully realised.
002 is why investors should put money into the company, why analyst should start putting you on their radar.
Vision is the domain of CEO and founders. Their job is to build a vision that attracts money, market interest, and employee.
The key is-
Develop a concept so innovative that it creates new markets, and new level of demand- companies that get 200 times the return on investment.
So, if the Vision is so critical, why is it limited to investors, CEO, analyst and founders?
The answer lies in Function side of spectrum, which is the domain of head of sales.
His job is to sell what you have now, not something you envisioned a year back.
Here the keyword for Vision is “disruption” and for function its “relevance”.
Function determines 2 aspects:
How relevant your product to the audience is?
Will it solve the pressing problems for your prospect?
The power of both the side of spectrum will assist you in being focused and relevant.
It will help you in getting your company funded and increase the sales revenue.
TLDR: Don't let V freeze F’s sales effort and vice versa.
Phase 1: Start backward with the final product in mind
Most entrepreneur abandon all focus on process and they don't decide first the answer to these questions:
Where are we going?
How do we get there?
How are we going to scale?
How are we going to scale?
Without these, it's like getting in your car and driving off without setting your GPS.
Take for an example; an under-construction house. 001 that is the first envisioned product is your foundation or the first story. It's what your employees are building and what your customers want to buy. It's the liveable on its own, but with an idea of what the rest of the house will look like.
002 is your house fully built and occupied. It's your vision realised. It's the point where your are going for IPO or acquisition.
To make the vision reality always keep in mind how to get there, else your function will contradict with your vision.
Phase 2: The blueprint
Using the house analogy once again, as you create your blueprint, you’re identifying all the components you’re going to need: foundation, plumber, roofer, electricians, and so on. This is the phase 2. Phase 1 was to decide your ultimate destination, this phase is about how to get there. The map making.
Now, let's get practical, look for the answers for these hard headed questions:
Who is the potential buyer of your solution?
How many of them are there and in what role and company?
What are they willing to pay for?
Is success repeatable?
Can you scale your operation to meet demand?
This phase is about asking questions to everybody, listen to the market, get the third party validation of both problem and your proposed solution. Your potential investors are going to need this. No amount of self confidence is going to make up for the lack of market validation.
Now you got eh market feedback and adjusted your product according to that, its time to create blueprint for going to market. This will include product plan, budget, and schedules. It also includes determining the roles for everyone: yourself, your employees and the third party.
Determining roles would also require you to answer which of the functions would be handled in house and which should be outsourced.
Less is more. If you think you have focus, focus some more. If you think you have 10 things to do, then stack rank them and cut the bottom nine.
Phase 3: Construction
This is all about executing your vision and resulting blueprint. It starts with a fundamental decision: are you going to manage all the function by yourself or delegate to the third party.
The resources which are for the long term such as HR, finance, legal, engineer etc you had to get them in house and get acquainted with them without getting swallowed up in their activities.
Taking your company to market and associated multiple activities of marketing requires a strong knowledge. The activities involve web design, demand generation, sales/marketing and so on. I would recommend outsourcing them to a third party.
Post launch activities will require your focused monitoring such as:
- Monitoring product development, including customer feedback.
- Working with the marketing team to design the new website
- Hiring the post launch sales and support team.
- Hiring a PR and social media team and working with them for strategy.
There will always be a risk connected with your startup and ways to solve them.The best solution would be to build the MVP, the essence of which is narrow down the idea into smaller quantities that validate your assumptions. It illuminates risks of uncertainty surrounding a startup.