What your to-do-list consists of, and what your metrics for measuring progress should be, depend greatly on the stage (see article on stages) you are at. If you spend energy on a task that should not be on your priorities, it is counterproductive. It can be even lethal. No matter how good or hard working you are.
activities done in startups are inherently wrong. They might be exactly right –
for someone in a specific situation. But are they right for you, right now is
example of this is premature scaling -
the #1 cause of startup death. The activities being performed can be exactly
the right ones – for someone who is ready to scale. But if you are not, you may
commit a suicide as a result.
A related topic is, what should be the key indicators of your progress. If you are in PMF stage trying to measure Customer Love, think what is a good proxy for that? You get what you measure, so picking the right indicators for each stage is important.
- Identify the stage where you are at and what should be on your to do list accordingly
- Identify the right indicator to measure your progress towards your next milestone
Shortage of time is your biggest obstacle - spend it wisely
Time is the biggest shortage startup has. So you need to spend your time doing right things at right time - otherwise you hours will be wasted on doing something that could have been done on later date.
One of the lessons I learned while entrepreneur was: You can spend your time doing things right (corporation) or right things (startup) !
Most modern literature refers to just OKRs (https://www.perdoo.com/the-ultimate-okr-guide/) but I prefer adding Goals to it as well – as Microsoft did back in the 90´s. You need to have defined a clear Goal first before Objectives makes sense. Anyway, the operational stuff is captured in the OKRs (without the G) so no need to split hair on semantics, both work.
The power of the OKR driven operation is explained well in (https://www.amazon.com/Measure-What-Matters-Google-Foundation/dp/0525536221). If you google “measure what matters” you find a lot of material, Youtube videos etc to give you a crash course. Though the examples in the book are very big companies, the method works well for startups as well. Actually they may be even more critical for a startup, as “what matters” is dependant on the stage of the J Curve you are at. As you make progress, “what matters” should change. The thing to drive your everyday activity is the Key Result. The name is a bit misleading, it should rather be “Key Activity”, but this is the standard term so we stick with it.
Scaling is a startup mantra and obsession. Financiers and investors - public and private alike - push startups to scale.
Newborn startups talk about scaling and measure themselves on scale stage quantitative metrics, like growth, MRR etc.
But doing things in a big scale is not scaling. Trying to force business by spending money, hiring more salespeople and increasing number both inbound and outbound actions is not scaling.
Scaling means cloning a concept that has been proven to work, both technically and commercially, in volume.
If your company does not have a concept that can be cloned, ignore this at your peril.