Startup Leader

Startup Leader – are you formidable?!?

Are you a FORMIDABLE Startup Leader?

We’ve been doing some heavy lifting over the past few month’s newsletters – so this time, we’re gonna have some fun!

Okay, alright, it’s a little serious, but it’s also fun. And Christmas is coming too, eh?

So I was scrolling through twitter – as you do – and I came across a really interesting post by a Growth Hacker / Founder who has converted into a VC.

I thought he’d done a great job of distilling why he does and does not invest in founders and their startups. A lot of what he said resonated with the work I’ve done over the past 20 years and it fitted with the research I’ve done into successful founder and startup leadership teams too.

So, I thought it would be fun to share it and turn it into a kind of ‘insight’ quiz! Feel free to play along alone – or, for more fun, get someone else to help you find the insights!

Like all good questions, the insights come from the nuances that these enquiries expose – and, as you’d expect, I do have a coaching question at the end. of the newsletter too… 😉

Firstly though, I got this from Julian Shapiro – you can read his original tweet here.

(Note: there is no scoring system here. So, as you go through the questions, think about how you’d answer them now and then about how you’d like to answer them in the future or next time. Sometimes, your insights might be about better articulating your response, sometimes the insights might stimulate thoughts about how you’d like the reply to be different / better / other)

There are three groups of questions: Are you a Formidable Startup Leader? What is the Startup Growth Potential? Are the Market Dynamics in your Favour? And then there is a last section for extra points!

Have fun, don’t answer anything that doesn’t apply – but don’t avoid the hard questions either (see the coaching question at the end…)

Are you a formidable start up leader?

1. Do you bias towards action?

a. When the answer is clear – do you pursue?

b. Do you identify and think about your decisions prior to action – and convert these into a or the strategy? Do you come to meetings with advisors and investors prepared to gather information?

c. Or, do you show up on calls with advisors or investors with no agenda? (This shows that you haven’t thought things through.)

2. Are you resourceful and ambitious?

a. Does your career (trajectory) show pro-active hustle (note: two key words – proactive and also hustle). Eg. Did you move country and take a job that opens doors to where you want to get to in the end? Were/ are you prepared to work (and battle) your way towards your goal?

b. Do you have a history that substantiates why you want to pursue this particular mission? If not, you might give up when a low acquisition offer / job offer comes in or when times get tough?

3. Do you have insight?

a. Do you possess clarity of thought? And clarity of communication? That’s it.

b. Do you enjoy thinking in frameworks and being strategic?

c. Or, do you just ‘wing it’? This might show that you don’t have or are not using insight!

4. Are you good at the skills needed to make this project work?

a. If you are running a B2C startup – do you have strong awareness of product and user experience?

b. If you are running a B2B startup – do you have the ability to hustle for sales?

(Fit the example to your own case!)

5. Do you possess emotional intelligence?

a. Are you likeable? Do people want to spend time with you?

b. Are you adaptable and open to feedback?

What is the Startup Growth Potential?

1a. Does your startup have a clear and believable customer acquisition path?

1b. Is the acquisition path scaleable?

2. Are you attacking a large, stable market … or … a nascent, fast growing market that will (likely) be large?

Are the Market Dynamics in your Favour?

1. Are you operating in a market landscape that won’t crush your startup?

2. Can a competitor take your idea / novelty and add it to their product without loss of their focus?

3. Does your startup possess enough unique product / culture / team DNA such that another startup can only weakly copy you?

4. Are you, the founder/ leader, sufficiently adaptable to navigate around various issues as things change?

For Extra points!

1. Are you a second time founder/ startup leader, and hence have less patience with BS? Equally, do you make decisions strategically to avoid wasting your time again?

2. Do your customers automatically become strong, vocal advocates?

3. Is the path to €5bn+ in revenue as clear as the path to €1bn?

4. Is your startup tied to disruptive change – ie. is your idea is only recently possible!

5. Do you have significant traction – or a high affinity audience of leads waiting to be tapped?^

6. Do you face a *lack* of unique hurdles?

7. If you are building a platform, does the ecosystem naturally form?

8. Does your startup make money on a recurring (subscription) basis?

9. Is your unfair advantage sustainable?

10. Are you iterating at rapid pace?

^ Note: extensive traction wins, always! The bigger the traction, the less the unanswered questions matter.

So, ask this coaching question:

Which startup question challenged you or disturbed you or (mildly) upset you the most? Why was that? How can you use this insight to move forward in 2022?

Startup Leader