Startup Challenges: Focus, Focus, Focus…..Hey Look! A Squirrel!

By Matt Sprague (@sprague13)

TS_logoAs a thriving startup out of Manchester, NH, TestSoup has owned it’s share of ups and downs.  The idea of getting it correct the first time is not realistic but the focus has always been to learn from mistakes and strive to be better each day.  This post is one in a series of our perception of the start up world.  Agree with it or disagree with it.  Either way is OK because we already disclosed that we are not always correct.   All we ask is that you join the discussion.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts below.

Focus, Focus, Focus

There are so many things to consider while creating and executing on your startup concept.   Therefore, there are just as many, if not more, places for you to get distracted or misled.   So, how does one keep their eyes on the horizon?   I do not believe that there is one set way.  We, at TestSoup, have used a variety of practices that have definitely kept us on the straight and narrow for the majority of the time.  Here are a few:

Weekly / Bi-Weekly State of the Startup Meetings - A great habit we have gotten into is having a meeting, at least, every Monday morning.  This allows us to catch up with what had been accomplished over the weekend and what we expect to get accomplished throughout the coming week.  The main purpose is to see if what we are doing is working and if not to answer why and pivot accordingly.   Without these meetings we could get into a groove and waste a lot of time on an effort that does not bare any fruit.  As a startup, you cannot afford to just spin your wheels.

Flow Charts & Visualization From All Angles - Especially at the beginning, we utilized all sorts of diagrams, flow charts or any other visual aid to help us completely understand the nature of our business, the landscape, our competitors, our strategy and any possible contingencies we may  need to tangent off into.   We needed to be experts on everything pertaining to our company.  This exercise helped us hone our strategy and keep us focused for the foreseeable future.  Until, of course, in one of our weekly meetings, we decide to change what we are doing and the process starts all over again.  HAHA!

Don’t Forget the Strategery!!  - The largest amount of time and energy is spent on strategy.  Business Development Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Content Development Strategy…….dare I say Exit Strategy?  These are critical in your quest to not be distracted by “the squirrel”.   They are road maps and often times guard rails in your path to startup success.   Revisit them regularly to see where you need to pivot and then get back to work.

Now Set Reminders and Execute  - Many co-founders are very busy.  Some have other jobs.  Others have any number of other responsibilities that are going on during the run-up period.   Myself, I have two children and a wife that is working full time (a major factor that allows me to do what I am doing, thank you honey!!).   To say the least, I have responsibilities at home that I need to balance. I could lose my way very easily.  My days can change at the drop of a hat.  I am the king of reminders.  I utilize my calendar and reminders to make sure I am meeting every milestone and that every day is productive.

This is by no means the definitive list of things to do in order to be successful.   These are some thoughts and experiences that I have had during my time with TestSoup.   I would love to hear your experiences and be able to add to this list.

 

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