5 Milestones On Your Startup’s Path From Big Idea to Valuable Company

How to go from idea to reality to viability to scalability

Joe Procopio


No matter how much experience we entrepreneurs have, it seems like we always struggle with the hugeness of our ideas. Most of the time, we can’t quite articulate exactly how disruptive, game-changing, and far-reaching our ideas are, but we’re all convinced that those ideas have unlimited potential.

The problem is this: When we’re working on something that’s never been done before, it can sometimes seem impossible to figure out the proper next step to take. We want to exploit the full potential of our massive idea, but we fear getting caught up in wild goose chases that might lead us nowhere.

Building a business is like controlling an explosion. In the dark. With a lot of people around. It’s easy for an entrepreneur to get paralyzed trying to determine which new feature to build, which new market to tap, or whether it’s time to pivot.

When that happens to me, I fall back on some strategic tools I’ve been using my entire 20-plus-year career as an entrepreneur. There are different tools for each milestone in the startup maturation cycle, a cycle that starts with the original idea and takes it through reality to viability and, ultimately, to scalable success.

Let’s take a look at the path between the milestones, and use these strategies to get unstuck.

Idea to Reality: Getting a grip

When you’re at the idea stage, that idea is one of a million other ideas you’ve had, all of them vying to be the one that becomes a reality. Multiply that by all the millions of entrepreneurs who have their own million ideas, and the math alone tells you that the odds of that idea actually becoming a reality are pretty slim.

You need a product roadmap. But creating a roadmap at the idea stage is like booking a flight without a destination in mind. Chances are you’re going to end up someplace you never intended to be.

So before you spend a lot of time on a product roadmap, draw up an execution map.

An idea should only be acted upon when you can envision a final outcome that is worth all…



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com