Learning to Think

Startup Constraints

Now that I’ve got a first draft of my goals, I can see how they fit in with my ideas. I need a day or two for the goals to ferment, so I will be writing down some high level descriptions of my ideas over the next two days so I can sit them side by side to see if there are any superstars. Ideally, I would like to boil everything down to three goals and three ideas. The goals will be pretty static. With the ideas, I will need to force one to the top and drop the other two for the time being.

One of the things I’ve always been fairly resistant to is the idea of timeboxing. Every project has three main constraints: time, money, and scope. Unless you have some kind of magical money fountain, you have a fixed amount of cash you can spend. That leaves time and scope for you to play with. Common wisdom says that of the three constraints, you can control two. If you control scope, the amount of time will automatically be determined. If you control time, scope will be determined for you.

My approach will be to fix time and money and then determine what my scope is. If the idea I settle on has 10 major features and I can only do six of them in the timebox, I will only do six of them and then bring it to market. I can add more later, but Time to Value is important to me. If I can not generate worthwhile value in that timebox with that money, I should be working on a different idea. I would like to know this as soon as I can. Failing quickly and moving on is better than a slow, long death.

I finished season one of Startup Junkies this afternoon. There were many things I got out of the show, most of which were just refreshers.

  • You have to have an idea
  • You have to keep trying until you get it right
  • You have to do it as inexpensively as you can
  • Cash flow is king
  • Keep things as simple as possible
  • Don’t be afraid to go big
  • You have to make tough decisions, make them as soon as you can so they don’t weigh you down
  • You are taking a risk
  • Have a sense of humor