Starting a company starts with dreaming about what is possible, but without execution none of it is possible. When you have a great idea, it is easy to imagine yourself going straight from where you are now to accomplishing your dream. You know there is a lot to do, connections to make, product to build, marketing, financing etc. but what comes first and what is most effective? It is easy to keep dreaming, thinking of expansive plans for expanding in to multiple markets and researching who you want to have as an investor, but the reality of the situation is that you have very little traction and you need a solid plan for moving forward.
The good news is that you have an idea of where you want to go in the future, so all you need to do is start there and step backwards. Where do you want to be in ten years? To get there where do you need to be in three? How about next year? What do you need to do in the next three months to get there? Alright, so now you know what you need to get done in the next three months, what do you do this week to get to that point? Once you answer these questions, you will have taken the first steps to realizing that dream.
Over the past couple of weeks we have been working non-stop on our MVP for NomNominate. I made the stupid mistake of designing for a huge user base, and before we even had 10 users, I was building an app that would support hundreds of thousands. All of the different team members were focused on a different goal. We were as disbursed as we possibly could have been. This often happens in startups, where the whole team is working towards different goals and therefor none of their goals get accomplished.
The book and methodology, Traction by Gino Wickman is one of the best ways to get a team back on track and focused on the same goals. It is based on the premise of starting with your ten year vision and moving backward until you are on a weekly level of granularity, making sure that it is extra clear why what you are doing today is moving you towards your ten year goal. As one of our team members/mentors, Sean De Clercq described to us, a 40 watt light bulb can barely light a dark room while a 40 watt laser can cut through steal; a team always has the same amount of power at its disposal, and what dictates whether you reach your goals is how you direct that power you have.