In the age of the lean startup, we often forget about the importance of vision. A big audacious vision is critical for attracting venture capital and for getting the early team to “take the leap.” It also stimulates the emotion/passion needed to fuel your team’s persistence to blast through inevitable hurdles.
Vision Needs Traction
Achieving your vision requires first getting traction. The most realistic way to get traction is to break down your vision to something very relevant now for the sweet spot of your target market. This MVP (minimum viable product) is a bridge between concrete customer needs today and your big audacious vision.
Customer development teaches us that elements of the MVP are often based on flawed assumptions. As we validate and refine our assumptions, we need to make sure that the MVP is tracking to these new facts.
It’s also important to revisit your vision when new customer facts emerge. This often provides inspiration for extending the original vision but you should not be exclusively tied to your original vision. Always seek more interesting directions to be able to take the business once traction is established.
At FREEjit we’ve mapped out a primary vision but we continue to explore other huge opportunities we could pursue once we have some traction to leverage. Each new fact adds credence to some potential pivots and reduces the viability of others. Eventually we’ll need to focus on one vision, but the right vision will crystallize over time. Even while we explore these opportunities, our current execution is very focused on the MVP needed to get traction. And the MVP maps well to each of the big opportunities we’re considering.
While vision synching seems like a distraction from gaining traction, I find that it reinvigorates the team and makes the pursuit of traction even more exciting.
Since my team and I are heads down on FREEjit, I don’t have much time to monitor comments. Instead, I’m hoping to get some discussion around this concept on Quora. I’ve posted the following question on Quora: “How do lean startups avoid iterating their way into a small niche and missing big opportunities?” I’d appreciate your thoughts.