In my last post onÂ 80/20 Rules for Startup, I briefly touched an area on Movement Vs Momentum. I got some interest to put some more light into it. So here it goes. Startup is all about working hard to validate hypothesis, as you solve one, another one pops up. So, it should be all about validating highest priority hypothesis one after the other. Startups that find the fastest route through problem solving to revenue win. In this struggle, startups work really hard to move and establish a business. Not all hard work translates to business, which is the primary differentiation between movement and momentum.
During this never ending run to make startups successful, it is extremely important to prioritize and not spend time running in circles. So, it is very important to differentiate movement from momentum. To a working brain,Â it is very easy to confuse momentum with motion as both appear to be identical traits. Momentum is moving things in desired direction, whereas motion/movement is state of doing something. Not every motion is a momentum, which is why sometimes, ever increasing mountains of hours of work results in lesser and lesser accomplishments. Startups are no different; they need some smart help to make them work efficiently to success.
This is why we need to understand how startups could work smartly and waste less. Sometimes, it is not only about moving faster but also moving smarter. It is also important to understand it is very difficult to differentiate movement from momentum. As we all know, all momentums are movement but not all movements are momentums. So, instead of making long and inflated expectations to validate before you go out and launch, make small, edible assumptions and keep validating it to prove your ideaâs validity. Make your chase after the most important assumptions first. Startups in their early stages, makes several zig-zag turns to diversion and get overworked. Every effort should be made to put the best effort in right direction to help startups save resource and get to result quickly.
So, following 5 are the signs that your startup could be moving but might not have the momentum:
1. You have not spoken to any prospective customers/users on the need of your product. Many startups are suffering from it. Many a times startups are focused in building the best product and do not get their product idea validated early on. This to me is the primary reason most of the startups struggle. They invest a lot of time into building product and defining the feature set and that too without much validation. Sure, any disruptive technology often defines and creates its own market. But how many companies we know that reaches Foursquare, Pinterest, Uber, AirBNB, Â or Twitter stardom? The same probability applies to new and upcoming startups. The safer approach is to validate the problem-solution mix with the prospective clients. May be that would result in some quick iterations that could magnify the impact. One should remember that the best ideas often come from clients/prospects. So, if startups are investing a lot of time building product and not getting it validated, they could be moving but just not in the right direction which could increase chances of failure.
2. Your product has several features, solving various issues and going through a long development cycle before customer sees what you are up to. This is another issue plaguing some good teams in getting their products out. Last week, I spoke with 2 startups and both are very ambitious on what they are building and not yet ready to let their prospect see their product. They are all heads down perfecting the product. This is another sign which says that you could be overworking on problem. Remember the fact that your ordinary could be someoneâs awesome, and there is no other way to check that than getting your prospects on the platform and allowing them to play a little. This will not only help you with some fundamental issues that crop up in early development but also help you in staying close to the need of your prospects/customers. This has always been the recipe of success for startups. So, stop adding lot of features and work on the one and only crazy feature that solves some real problem for your customers/users. This will help you get the product in hands of your customer quickly and efficiently and save you from wasting time on overworking or overthinking.
3. You are investing majority of your time executing but not focusing enough on planning how to best execute. I am sure, we recognize this problem. As a coder/doer, it is my tendency as well to jump on solving the problem, instead of taking a step back and thinking about the best strategy to solve. Many times the best solution is not the first one that comes to mind. So, if you find yourself doing more and planning less, it should be a red flag to check and revisit the strategy. Needless to say, doing more also works, but just more at the mercy of the probability of startups picking the right strategy. So, it is a good idea to revisit the execution strategy, may be you will find faster, cheaper and optimal way to execute the same thing.
4. You are not iterating enough. Yes, iteration also defines if you are working more than you should. A good execution strategy should make small hypothesis, validate them and keep on iterating till no further assumption are left unchecked. If you have one product and you are working on it forever without revisiting your strategy, it could be a problem. Similar to the point made above, first solution or your current solution might not be the best way to approach a problem, so it is important to keep yourself open to iterate your work and chase after best way to execute things. So, if you have been working really hard on something and not yet iterated on your code, it could be a sign that you may just be moving in circles and not moving in the direction to a successful startup.
5. You are still not working towards getting your first check. This might not apply to all, but you could read it in any way you can. Idea is that a startup should deliver real value, having paid customer or satisfied user endorses that value. The quickly you get to that stage, the faster you will start seeing the value needed you to move on. If you are not getting your first paid engagement quickly, it could make you spin in circles as you have still not validated your idea. It is still not known if someone will actually pay for such service. It is always great to get to the stage where you are delivering the real value to real company, user etc. Missing that could mean unsure state of your startup in delivering any value.
Now, you could argue, life is good on the other side of fence as well. Sure, startups could succeed in any shape, form, ideology or strategy. It is just a good strategy to follow a path where risk could be minimized. Getting a startup to succeed is anyoneâs guess but having a more calculated strategy will make the success that is much more predictable and certain. So, it does not hurt to adopt some strategy which helps you gain momentum and not just move in any direction.
As a treat, here is a video on 10 things startup should focus on.