The Number One Thing Startups Should Focus On
Being an entrepreneur in the dynamic startup world is a long, difficult road of challenges and new experiences. From NDAs to building MVPs and fundraising, there are a million things that any successful entrepreneur has to look out for. Between documents and development, one of the most important things anyone working at startup can do is to set a goal and keep focused on what they want to accomplish.
One of the best ways to stay motivated is by laying out “the big picture.” For startups, this big picture is often the ultimate goal of the company or solution, whether it’s something like creating the next big social platform or providing an optimized new service for people working in a given industry.
A startup’s big picture will often act as the driving force to keep the team from getting lost in the minutiae and minor details, and can help make sure that they effectively execute the company’s strategy.
Guide Decision Making
Running a startup invariably requires a great deal of decision-making. Some of them will feel like no-brainers, like deciding which emails are worth replying to or not. Others require a lot more thought, like the pros and cons of relocating or expanding your business to another city or even state.
Keeping an eye on the big picture would ideally make these kinds of decisions easier. Everything will eventually come down to the question: “Is this important to reaching my goal?”
The big picture allows startups to look at the decisions they need to make with some objective distance, rather than making a choice based on an immediate need. Getting some high-quality photos and high-fidelity designs for things like outbound marketing collateral is important, but maybe solidifying content and brand identity is more important in the long run.
Having the big picture and associated goals in mind can also help you find the tools that work the best for your startup, such as decision matrices, gantt charts, or other types of decision-making visualizations.
You don’t have to respond to every demand and opportunity that might come up as you continue building your startup — it’s more important to pick and pursue the ones that will benefit you in the long run. Making the right decisions for your startup is all about staying focused on what you want to accomplish.
The big picture should act as a guide for each of your yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly milestones. Everything your startup does should be motivated by an overarching goal.
Find a way to remind yourself of the big picture every day, even if it’s as simple as writing it down somewhere where you and the others in your startup can easily find it.
Use it to Cultivate Culture
The big picture is something you and the other members of your team should share, so make sure to communicate it to all of your new and existing team members. Laying out a common goal gives everyone something in common to work toward, which can act as the basis for the team’s culture. If everyone cares about and stands behind the big picture goal, they’ll be motivated to improve what they do every day.
An overarching goal can also help guide your team and prioritize the data points and KPIs that will help your company grow in the way that it needs. You can find and set keywords that you can use to optimize your blog posts and website pages, identify who your competitors are and what keywords they’re competing for, and position your business in a way that would be valuable to your potential customers.
Think Big and Dream Big, but Stay Realistic
Reminding yourself of the big picture can bring you that much closer to your dreams, but you have to remember to set realistic expectations of yourself and your team.
Having a world-changing goal isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s just as easy to get caught up in changing the world as it is to get caught up in the smallest details. You don’t have to start building up to your biggest vision immediately — hit the milestones you’ve set first, and then think about how to optimize and improve from there.
Setbacks and challenges are inevitable when you’re trying to manage a startup, so having your vision is important, but you also have to make sure to maintain a balance. The road to the vision is just as important as the vision itself, so don’t be afraid to see where the process itself takes you and how your vision may even change.