The most important thing we can do as mindful founders at the start of our entrepreneurial journey is to calibrate our GPS to seek signal every step of the way. We need to know exactly where we are and have a good idea of where we’re going. With these coordinates accurately uploaded, we can proceed towards our goal with confidence.
The first thing I ask aspiring and beginning entrepreneurs is whether starting and growing a business is just a job, or is it their vocation? Do they see their startup company and the problem it’s solving as their calling?
As a founder, you are now playing three important roles: entrepreneur, manager, and technician. You are a workforce of one and doing it all. In effect, your life is now your business, so you’d better make sure that this startup and your own personal mission and values align.
As we discussed in our previous StartupHeat post, Founders Falling In Love Is Not Enough to Achieve Startup Success, running your business must be your occu-passion. It should be – or align with – your Why.
We also talked about how the more mission-driven founders are, the more they can align the problem they’re trying to solve with things they’re passionate about and the more successful their companies will be. For this reason, finding your true occu-passion and making sure there’s a fit with the opportunity you’re pursuing is the vital first component of The Mindful Startup Formula.
Employees, investors, and, ultimately, customers will first be attracted to your Why – your passion and their belief in your ability to achieve greatness – and then your solution. Make your Why foundational and well-defined so that your business will be able to grow from there, starting with the team you build to accompany you on your entrepreneurial journey.
Most investors will tell you they invest in great founders first, big opportunities and blue-ocean markets second, and actual solutions/products third (with special consideration given to unique approaches to solving the problem).
In this edition of StartupHeat, I want to provide you with an overview of the three key stages in The Mindful Startup Formula for success:
- STAGE ONE – Idea to MVP: Leverage your love for the problem to achieve problem-solution fit, and build a successful business model, starting with a minimum viable product offering (MVP).
- STAGE TWO – MVP to Revenue: Prove your business model by establishing cultural foundations for your team and finding more early-adopter customers so you can confirm product-market fit. Prove that target customers love your solution and want to buy it using a model that’s profitable.
- STAGE THREE – Revenue to Sustainability: Walking the customer journey so you can properly acquire and align the talent required to execute on the big opportunity to scale the business model. Execute the strategy by aligning all of the firm’s capital with the market opportunity.
In order for founders to build a successful startup, they must do three things right. And by design, those three things correspond to each of the three stages of The Mindful Startup Formula:
- Achieve problem-solution fit (Stage 1)
- Achieve product-market fit (Stage 2)
- Achieve team-opportunity fit (Stage 3)
The Mindful Startup Formula was created to help you get those things right. It will be your roadmap. Your trusted GPS.
Mindfulness and the Formula
The three stages of The Mindful Startup Formula will guide you by providing valuable directional signs and mileposts along your entrepreneurial journey and search for signal. But even more importantly, this particular map offers the critical element of mindfulness to pace you every step of the way rather than charting a quick shortcut to riches.
Like the friendly, ever-present voice of your GPS, mindfulness necessarily overlays each step in The Mindful Startup Formula. As we’ve detailed in earlier posts, mindfulness keeps you focused, aware, and anchored in reality as you passionately strive towards your goals. When speeding down an unfamiliar highway, you must keep your eyes on the road and sometimes pump the breaks to help steer clear of hazards.
A map alone just isn’t going to cut it.
The Mindful Startup Formula’s guidelines remind entrepreneurs that they shouldn’t move to the next step without confirming success at the current vital step. It may seem simplistic, but there is a correct order of operations that will help lead you from your big startup idea to business sustainability and increase your odds of success.
Taking It Slow
An interesting concept my friends at Mercury Fund use is called “going slow to go fast.” What that means is you have to put all of the infrastructure components of the business in place before you can just scale your marketing and sales. Because if not done properly, as the business grows, it quickly gets beyond itself, and the startup team runs into challenges that can thwart revenue growth, increase customer attrition, and create a downhill effect that can be tough to stop. And ultimately, it becomes apparent the business was not built to scale.
Scalability relies on many things, including your product roadmap, your people strategy, and your sales and marketing strategy. So, you must get all those elements arranged in just the right order. With poor execution, you could find yourself missing out on an exciting, tangible business opportunity. Or worse.
In the world of mindfulness, there’s more balance between the notion of failure and the notion of paying attention to the signs. “Fail fast” to learn is a wonderful mantra when the stakes are low. But mindfulness enables a passionate founder to read the environment, weigh available inputs, check emotions, and understand the reality of what’s at stake in making business decisions.
Our next three StartupHeat posts will dive deeper into each of the three stages of The Mindful Startup Formula. Next time, we’ll fire up the GPS and focus on Stage 1 of The Mindful Startup Formula – Idea to MVP and how to know when you’re ready to move to forward to Step 2.
Until then, stay curious, focus on the signal, and make mindful decisions on your journey to success!