A Startup’s Three Visions

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There are three types of vision that a successful startup needs: product vision, business vision and team vision.

Product vision is the dream. It’s how your company changes the world. It’s the problem that you’re solving and the solution to that problem. Product visions don’t end on launch day. They extend for years through the company’s growth. A product vision isn’t a certain feature or even a completed product. It’s the state of having solved a problem for a user or providing an experience for a user. The best product visions last for decades. Think Apple.

Business vision is the go-to-market: it’s the way the product arrives in customers hands. Each company’s business vision is a unique. It might be a flavor of freemium. It might be enterprise direct sales. It could be viral ecommerce. But it’s not just a buzzword. It’s the process to mechanize the revenue engine for the company.

Team vision is also called culture. Culture is the feeling of the workspace, the language in meetings and the values extolled by the company both internally and externally. Team vision also encompasses organizational structure - how the company is constructed to solve its customers problems.

Exceptional founders possess all three kinds of vision. More often, founding teams forge these three visions by complementing each other’s strengths. Sometimes advisors or board members can help clarify visions. But it’s problematic for an outsider to engender them altogether because these visions are more than ideas or dreams. They must be present every day in every decision made, every feature built, every marketing message delivered. These visions must begin in the founding team or the management team.

Of course, these visions may need to be tweaked with time if the market place impacts them, particularly product and business visions. A product might need to be redesigned to better suit meets customer needs. A distribution strategy may not work for a product because the ecosystem may have changed. But the essence of the vision shouldn’t change.

When you build your startup’s team, look for co-founders who can transform those visions into reality.

Apr 4, 2013

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