Principle 12: Drive a Lean Machine

Startup Management

What should I focus on for the first 12 months?

Why is this principle important?

The main reason startups fail is that they run out of money. In the first stages of your entrepreneurial journey you want to stay as small as you can whilst you find the way that works. You are not a mini-version of a big business, you are a startup – and that is a completely different beast. Don’t get distracted by all the noise – make something people want and find sustainable ways of getting them to pay for it.

What should you focus on at this stage?
  • Get clear on the growth trajectory that will give your business the best chance of success.
  • Address the main legal and administrative tasks needed for the first 1-2 years of a startup.
  • Learn about useful tools and services that will save you time and money as you build
  • Understand the key components to early-stage recruitment and building a team culture.
Core Concepts

Take care of the important basics

Protect yourself legally
Early on only three things matter – who owns what, what happens if one of the founders leaves, and that any assets (brand, logo etc..) are owned by you. Everything else is a distraction until you get traction.

Minimise the burden of admin
Use the warehouse of great tools available to reduce admin so you can focus on the product and yours customers.

Move from a project to a business

Map your next key milestones
What does success look like in 3, 6, 12 months and 3 years? Think in three horizons – short, medium and long-term. You can control your next steps and your vision, you can’t control much inbetween.

Make excellent early hires
The people that work with you will be the reason you hit your milestones or don’t.

Focus on momentum above all else
You can feel it as well as see it. When it’s there everything seems possible and things can move fast. Search for it and hold on to it as long as you can!

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Tools & Resources
  • Xero: Small business accounting in the cloud
  • Kashflow: Does the books so you don’t have to!
Control Your Inbox
  • for controlling your inbox.
  • Slack: An alternative for email for teams – we’re already on it!
  • Streak: CRM in your inbox
Project Management Tools
  • Basecamp: really strong project management from the guys at 37Signals
  • Trello: a clean way of organising projects and workflow visually
Further Information
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