Last week’s post was all about facing the challenge of writing your own startup’s technical specifications, and why the founder is the best person for the job. If you haven’t already, go ahead and read it.

Today we are jumping right into what your technical specifications should actually contain. Keep in mind that this document will be used to hire developers and designers, so it will be the blueprint for every member on your technical team. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Startup business

Context

Everyone should have a good understanding of what you’re working on, why you’re working on it, and to whom you are selling it.

Who are your competitors? Have you established any personas? Why does your product make sense?

You have put a lot of thought into this startup. If you want someone new on board, you need to catch them up on some of the research you’ve made. Just make sure that you keep it short and relevant. Be assertive.

USP or unique selling proposition

This is basically a one-liner that perfectly describes your product.

Ideally, it would be something quick and simple, dynamic, “punchy”, easy to understand and to remember. For example, mine is: “I offer CTO advice for non-technical startup founders.”

Business logic

We can’t build a product without having the slightest idea of the intended business model.

Where will you get your money? Where’s the value? Make sure it’s actually profitable.

Startup planning

Like every single entrepreneur out there will tell you: it’s not practical nor realistic to plan your idea to completion.

Life happens, business happens, and things rarely go as planned, especially in a startup environment. You might have to change developers or providers mid-development. You might—God forbid—run into conflict with your co-founder, or even have to change your approach altogether to successfully achieve product-market fit.

Precisely because of this, you have to think on your feet, but also be very conscientious about what you spend your planning efforts on.

Here’s how to make sure your technical specifications really show where your startup is headed.

Startup roadmap

Divide your idea process into small stages, and provide a general vision of what the next three to four will look like. A balanced ecosystem in every stage should be a priority, even if you only have one feature.

A couple years ago, it was very trendy to figure out the business model further down the road, but now it’s much harder to raise funds without it. So define, define, define.

A clearly specified next stage

One thing you should really focus on is having a very specific plan for the next version of your product.

“What’s next?” shouldn’t be an intimidating question with a vague answer, but instead a daily ritual that’s always followed by a detailed and goal-oriented plan.

A vision of the future

There are thousands, if not millions, of ways of building a solution, so you need to have a rough description of the following stages.

Describe your long-term path. Where do you want to go with this product? What’s your vision? This will probably bring forward a few tech decisions to be made right from the start, regarding human abilities and business expectations.

For instance: if you want AI (artificial intelligence) in the future, you should start writing your solution in Python. If you want your solution to be huge, and be used by millions and millions of users, certain databases will provide a better service at a larger scale, so you should consider changing.

Startup visualization

This one might be the most intimidating for some startup founders.

I’m definitely not saying that you should skip the graphic designer. This step will actually make the designer’s job much easier, and save you a lot of time on the interview process because he or she will know and understand exactly what you mean.

The customer journey map

Basically, these are the feelings users are going to experience when using the app. Write the process down step by step, feeling by feeling, and the actions you offer to encourage or redirect those emotions.

For example: if your customer was about to buy something but he didn’t, you might anticipate that he experienced doubt, or may have gotten distracted. In that case, you can send them an email the next day, addressing those potential feelings and convincing them to follow through with their original intention.

The mock-ups

These are the drawings of each screen. You don’t need to tackle every single possible screen for your app, nor work with costly software. The old pen and paper should do the job explaining what’s on your mind.

Designers will still have a job to do. You’re just making it easier for them to understand your vision, and controlling the process more closely along the way.

Alright folks, there you have it, the eight key components of a great startup technical specifications. If you found this helpful, feel free to comment and share this post. And if you are in the process of developing your own startup and don’t know where to start or move on to, you can check my other blog posts, full courses, video advice, and coaching services.

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