I’m a process and systems person so I love the idea that a startup is a process that can be managed and measured. Obviously as a researcher, I believe anything can be measured (it’s just how much error you can tolerate) but I had trouble measuring the progress of my business beyond revenue.
The “I’m not making the money I want but boy am I learning a lot” gets old.
Early on in my business, I had a conversation with one of my colleagues about how to benchmark my progress. I was looking for something for me to know if I was making progress given the time period I had been in business, e.g., at year two (or whenever), where is the typical business? She replied that every business develops and grows differently so there are few comparisons. This was probably true but not having something to measure my progress was totally unacceptable to me. No wonder I love the concept of validated learning.
Over the past years, I have learned a lot but the learning was painfully slow. Each year I would make a new strategic plan and talked about what I learned and what I was going to change. Time was wasted and opportunities were missed. I’m determined not to make the same mistake, which is why I have thus far built a very basic product and am going back to the people who have signed up to get their feedback. (This is on my to-do list for next week.)
The question that needs to be answered is not “What do I want to build?” but “Should I build this?” and “Will it be sustainable?”