Long Roadmaps

I’ve been thinking a lot about entrepreneurs with long roadmaps recently. I blogged about this four years ago. And while I captured some of what is special and important about long roadmaps in that post, I don’t think it really does this issue justice.

So I’m back for more on this one.

A big vision is critical for a big success. You have to know where you want to be in a decade or more. That’s where the long roadmap comes in.

But the mistake most entrepreneurs make is the try to ship most or all of their vision in their first product. And that’s a terrible idea.

The best companies start with a very narrow product that nails something pretty simple but powerful. And then they go from there.

This is true in both enterprise and consumer applications.

A long roadmap is comprised of many short and focused roadmaps, each leading to the next one.

It’s like you want to drive from NYC to LA. You start by driving to Philly. Then you drive to Pittsburgh. Then Cincinnati, then St Louis, then Kansas City, then Denver, then Salt Lake City, then Las Vegas, and finally you drive to LA. Each trip is its own thing and you plan it out carefully and then execute it with focus and energy, not thinking about where you want to end up beyond the next city.

Another good analogy is a basketball season. You want to win the NBA championship. But you get there one game at a time.

I was emailing with an entrepreneur last night who has a long roadmap. And we were discussing this very thing. He said he was very patient. And I replied that building a great company is a combination of patience and impatience in equal doses applied unevenly. Impatient short term, patient long term.

A long roadmap helps you be both.