5 things to define before you start your next Venture

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This past year, I’ve done nothing but help other people get their companies started.

This year alone I’ve worked with:

Now though, it’s time to get my own company off the ground.

I recently incorporated a new company that will soon be my full-time and exclusive gig.

(If you’re on my email list you’ll hear more details about this new venture soon. If you are not on my email list, get on it here.)

Here’s the funny thing:

When it’s someone else’s company, it feels easy and natural to spring into action. But now that it’s my company, I start to think, “Where the heck do I start?”.

Can you relate?

When you’re in the role of advisor or consultant, everything is so clear. But when it’s your life and your business, things get confusing. – Click to Tweet

Fortunately for me, I’ve partnered up with a cofounder who is great at pulling us both into the next (and most important) action.

Fortunately for you, my cofounder and I have worked through a framework that can be applied by anyone at the very beginning stages of starting a business (or any major project).

5 Things to Define Before You Start Your New Venture

If you’re starting a company (or really any major project) there are 5 things you need to define BEFORE you spring into action.

Once you’ve defined these 5 things, it will be very clear as to what your next action should be.

  1. End Goal: What do you want out of this venture?

    Do you want to finally be your own boss? Do you want to make some money on the side? Are you trying to become a millionaire? Or do simply want income to support a location independent lifestyle?

    Note: Thinking about partnering with someone on your venture? Going through this process will help you both determine if you are a match. If you want to build the next Microsoft and your potential partner wants to make a modest income by working a few days a week, it’s probably a bad fit.

  2. Vision: How are you going to get what you want?

    What service or product are you going to provide and to who? What’s distinctive about the service or product that you are going to provide? How do you monetize the value that you create? What will your business look like and feel like when it’s thriving?

  3. Mission: In the big picture, what great problem is your venture solving?

    Look at your vision and sum it up in a bottom-line sentence or two that captures the spirit of what you are about.

    Examples:

    “We give startups the confidence they need to succeed by providing training and resources that are normally reserved for mature companies.”

    or

    “We make exercising convenient and fun for women athletes by providing functional athletic wear that looks great.”

  4. Org Chart: If your venture were to grow into a mature business (say 15 people) what would your organizational structure look like?

    Even if you’ll never grow to 15 people, do the exercise as though that were a possibility.

    What departments would there be? What roles would there be? A CEO? A VP of Marketing? A VP of Finance? Would you have a sales team? A designer?

    Once you have those roles nailed down, go ahead and assign those roles to your current team members – even if it’s just you.

    Yep, assign each role to yourself.

    Note: I first encountered this exercise in the book E-Myth Revisited. It’s a must read if you’re starting a business.

    This will give you an idea of all of the facets that go into running your venture and a concrete picture of what you would most like to hand off or outsource once you have the resources.

  5. 6 month KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): What will need to happen in the next six months to indicate that you are on a successful trajectory?

    Do you need a certain revenue? A certain number of customers? A certain number of beta users? A certain amount of funding?

    Pick one or two KPIs and let everything that you do revolve around those metrics.

    From there it will be easy to work backwards and decide what needs to happen in the next 90 days, the next 30 days, and even in the next week.

Do those 5 things – which can be done in an afternoon – and you’ll know exactly what to do next to get your venture launched.

Question: What’s the #1 thing stopping you from getting your venture off the ground? Leave a comment.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “5 things to define before you start your next Venture

    • Totally agreed and important to remember that different types of businesses will have different time frames. That said, I haven’t encountered a business (whether it manufactures and ships physical goods or builds apps) that can’t benefit from defining these 5 things.

  1. Great stuff here – I’d never considered using 4 and 5 but I’m going to have to spend a day plotting my course – any tips for being realistic when choosing KPI’s? I tend to be overly ambitious when goal-setting.

    • This is SO common. Think of a realistic 6 mos KPI then start by measuring a small portion of it over, say a 2 week time frame. Do a couple 2 week iterations and you’ll get a much better feel. (You can also edit the KPIs with this new info.)