As an entrepreneur, time is your most valuable resource.
If you’re opening this article to quickly scroll through, scan the bold lettering for some helpful tidbits, and move on, go ahead and close it now. You won’t get any value out of it that way.
Or accept my challenge - go get a piece of paper and a pen (yes, those ancient artifacts), and turn off notifications for the next 30 minutes. Read through each of the questions below, and write out your answers. Doing it this way activates the critical thinking parts of your brain to maximize the value you get, and doing this now will save you months of time down the road.
1. As an individual, what does success look like?
There are many ways to make money, and almost all of them are easier than being an entrepreneur. So you must be here for a deeper reason. What is it? What does success really look like? for your career? for your lifestyle? for your legacy?
2. As a company, what does success look like?
Some companies want to grow into unicorns, go public, and dominate their markets (think Facebook). Others want to invest time in perfecting their craft and creating sustainable supply chains that will last for generations (think Patagonia). Others want to bring a product into the market, prove it’s utility, and be acquired by an incumbent that can scale it (think Burt’s Bees).
For the most part these paths to success are neither good nor bad, but they are very different. Depending on the path you’re on, you will need to make very different decisions. So, what do you want your young startup to grow up to be?
3. Who are you here to serve?
Don’t think about a template customer, like Jane Doe who makes between $50,000 and $75,000 a year and has 2.5 kids. Think about someone you know personally, whose hopes and dreams and struggles are very real.
4. What is your irresistible offer?
What offer will be so good they’ll think “I’d be crazy not to do this”?
5. How will you over deliver?
How will you go above and beyond their expectations?
6. Who do you need on your team in order to succeed?
Make a list of the knowledge and skills your startup will need to succeed.
Make a list of your own knowledge, skills, strengths and weaknesses.
Highlight gaps between what you have and what you need. Start looking for people who fill the gaps.
7. In one year, where do you want to be?
This is where we start to transition from strategy to tactics. Describe where you want to be in a year for each of the categories below. Then, use this to start setting stepping stone goals to get from here to there.
Finances & cashflow
Team size and dynamic