is like a newborn baby. The development of a baby always follows a certain
sequence: learn to eat, get the digestion system going, then crawling, walking,
talking, running, reading, writing etc. The first close to 20 years of a human
life are spent on just learning the skills needed to be a real, adult human
being. And it always happens in a certain sequence.
expect a 2 year old to be able to run a marathon, nor a 2nd grader
to apply for a university.
follow a similar kind of a development. But that is poorly understood (or
accepted), resulting in “2nd graders trying to get into a
University, with the help of a rich dad” – in startup parlance known as “premature
scaling” (usually fuelled by foie gras funding).
babies and startups alike should focus on developing skills that kids of their
age are meant to. Even Wunderkinds who have special skills and are faster
learners than most have to follow the same sequence, they may just advance faster.
Startup J Curve” by Howard Love defines a 6 stage development process a startup
has to go through, in sequence, to make it to the finish line. A brief summary
of the stages can be found here
have a product that does the job – i.e. you must have found product/market fit
(see a separate article on product/market fit).
have a business model that works – i.e. you have unit economics that produce a
positive result, so that for every cycle the engine of your business turns you
earn money, rather than lose it. Only then does it make sense to rev up the
engine. (see a separate article on Business Model)
test type of questions to verify you really are ready to focus on just scaling
can make your business cashflow positive within the next 3 months
least 1 of the 5 biggest customer deals have been completed successfully
without any involvement of any of the founders.
must have at least two non-founder team members generating more annual revenue
than their all-in cost is to the company.
must have at least one non-founder team member who is bringing in more revenue
than the customer-facing founder.
Founder can switch her email off for 2 weeks and it causes no dent in revenue
Is you startup still in search mode or are you trying to scale ?
Too often startup entrepreneurs mix searching and scaling - which in reality are two important but totally different things. Searching is something each startup has to go through and make own discoveries. It is typically related to 1-3 first years of the company, while either in finding problem/solution fit or product/market fit.
Scaling only comes and should be done when those both have been found. The biggest reason why startups fail is premature scaling !