Small Victories

The story behind every start up runs along two chapters. The first is the search for a sustainable business model and the second is the search for an operational model which is sustainable in the business you are looking to operate. '7-days a week' is a concept that is at the core of the start up folklore and it goes something on the lines of “if you are not killing yourself (and your team in the process), you are not worthy enough to call yourself a start up”.

The vast quantities of bullshit floating around that concept needs to be tackled in a different post, but what I want to focus on is a tangential aspect of it. When you are a freshly-minted start up, it is almost always the case that you have juggle multiple things. On any given day you may find yourself making the draft of a new pitch, fending off customer queries and even fighting with the utilities guy as to why the power is intermittent in your office. There is almost always n+1 on the horizon when it comes to things that you want to tackle, where 'n' is far beyond what your available bandwidth can tackle with comfort.

In such a scenario, it is very easy to get lured into the trap of going after the big targets (alpa, beta, public release etc) as the only worthwhile milestones, but what also needs be kept in mind is that, in start ups, team members are almost always likely to be stretched to the point of breaking. While a the big goal might be a great target to gun for, it is also important to have smaller targets in place that breaks the monotony, brings in a feeling of being rewarded and keeps the perception/sensation of motion in place.

In the long road towards achieving sustainability, it is important to recognize smaller achievements. The key thing to remember in a start up is that you are working with a concept that is yet to be proven. Thus, that concept in itself cannot be the final reward for people who are part of your team. More importantly, it cannot be the only reward for yourself. It is important to break that big huge task into simpler and smaller parts, put timelines on it and go about attacking it.

And when you do finish those tasks, take a moment to savour and celebrate it. This is one place where it is really important to enjoy the journey as much as you would enjoy the eventual destination.