Getting to product/market fit (aka the inflection point in the hockey-stick curve when a product's traction starts rapidly growing) is one of the most significant milestones for a startup.
The challenge, of course, is that product/market fit takes roughly two years on average to achieve, and 80% of products never make it.
What happens before product/market fit?
Aimless wandering is a popular depiction:
But it doesn't have to be this way.
The early stage is uncertain but doesn't have to be messy.
With the right mindsets and thinking processes, the early stage can be systematically traversed, much like a labyrinth.
The objective is to get out of the maze with an idea (or business model) that works before running out of resources.
Yes, there are twists and turns, dead-ends, and back-tracking, but unlike the picture above, this one is less wasteful.
What does such a process look like?
It's stage-based, time-boxed, and outcome (vs. output) driven.
It breaks the journey from idea to product/market fit into a series of more manageable sub-stages, each with a clear business model outcome, deliverable in 90-day time-boxes.
We built the Continuous Innovation Framework with these attributes in mind.
While this roadmap looks like a linear progression across stages, what happens within each stage is iterative and even cyclical.
Here is what two of the playbooks look like:
The others have even more loops.
The Continuous Innovation Framework optimizes for traction per unit of time because time is our scarcest resource, and it's linear.
"To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time."
- Leonard Bernstein
Stop wandering aimlessly and bring more purpose to your search for the next big idea.