This is part of my Series on Getting from Zero to One.
No matter how world-changing you believe your startup may be, the most important thing you need to do at this preliminary juncture is to take things one step at a time. You are at “Zero” now and the goal is not “100”- it is actually “One”.
Remember- at some point in the not-too-distant future you actually need to build a product that people- (many people!) will want to use. That is the essence of what you need to achieve and don’t forget it. You must relentlessly focus on making this a reality. Everything you do now must be subsumed to that singular purpose.
One way to impose this discipline upon yourself is to break your company down into a diagram or two that you can paste on the wall above your desk so that you see them every day. Everyone’s different, so you need to use diagrams that work for you. Some people swear by Osterwalder's Startup Canvas, others use other tools. Nevertheless, at this preliminary stage I believe that it helps to have at least one that gives you an orchestral view of every aspect of the fledgling company’s operations. Here’s a primitive template I devised that I often recommend to entrepreneurs I’m mentoring:
As the company evolves, you are constantly refining this diagram, adding granularity with names, companies, action steps and the like within of all of the above categories.Grow new branches, add new categories, move things around to suit your eye- all this is very helpful to a Founder, who otherwise has to keep all this swimming around in his head.
So whereas your executive summary, business plan, google docs, Xcel spreadsheets, GANT charts, wireframes, use-cases and the like will all reside on your laptop or in the cloud somewhere- I’m suggesting you have at least one orchestral view on old-fashioned paper pasted front-row and center. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, simply glance up for a few moments and orient yourself. With that one glance and perhaps a tweak here or there you can quickly recalibrate things and get back into focus.
Are you beginning to hear the rhythmic chanting in the distance? … Zero to One… Zero to One… Zero to One…