This tool can be used to:
- Evaluate and improve a founding team’s readiness tolaunch a business
- Calibrate the timing of a startup effort (accelerate or delay)
- Assess the growth potential of an already establishedventure
- Provoke honest conversations about priority issues amongfounders, partners, and investors
- Pinpoint areas where focused support will increase theprobability of success.
As a new or aspiring founder, you can dramatically improve yourodds of success and happiness by evaluating and focusing on the rightfundamentals early in your entrepreneurial journey. The questionsin the following pages are the result of my twenty years of experienceas an organizational consultant, entrepreneur, and investor.
They aredesigned to help you assess your distinctive set of strengths, oppor-tunities, and needs, and to identify your priorities going forward:What important decisions need to be made? What questions needfurther research and reflection? What actions must be taken? Whatissues must be addressed?
As you review the list of questions, take into account the follow-ing considerations:
- Answering these questions may require a good deal of yourtime and energy. Many tools for entrepreneurs have been re-duced to “fast food” style checklists, but, when it comes tothe fundamentals of startup success, there are no shortcuts.The goal is not to perfect or over-analyze your idea, but tosystematically improve your likelihood of success by antici-pating and addressing the domains known to impact success.
- Each founder, and each venture, is unique. Some of the ques-tions will prove more relevant to your particular business andsituation than others. Start with a quick review of all ques-tions, flagging those that seem most timely and importantbased on your phase and situation. Then work through thequestions you have flagged as most valuable, while beingcareful not to avoid questions simply because they are toughto answer, or make you uncomfortable.
- Some questions will require more data or more reflection, ormay be unanswerable at your current phase. Work to gainclarity on these questions over time, and use this frameworkas a tool to continually reassess your venture’s strengths andweaknesses as time passes.
- There are five sets of questions. The first is a set of orientingquestions. The next four correspond to the four-quadrantframework for new venture success introduced in Chapter Six(founder, market, math, and execution), as seen in Figure A-1.
Figure A-1. Four-quadrant framework for new venture success.
Describe your business concept in fifty words or less: What willyou offer? For whom? What about your idea is most compellingand unique?
How many founders are currently involved? If only yourself, areyou open to bringing co-founders on board, including giving upsome ownership? Why or why not?
What other stakeholders/partners are involved at this point? Shouldthey provide input into this process?
What is the size and scale of your envisioned business? Why?
- How far along are you in pursuing the idea?
- Contemplating / considering?
- Actively planning / researching?
- Developing the product or service?
- Product/service is ready to launch?
- Business is launched (pre-revenue)?
- Business is generating revenue?
- Business is profitable?
Current time allocation: How many hours per week are you cur-rently devoting to the development of your new venture? Howmany hours per week are you currently devoting to job(s) otherthan your new venture?