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The Ten Year Startup Journey Map
A map for how to find a good market and win it. A series of posts. This is the first.
This is the first of a series of posts on the hard and rewarding journey to building a great business. All the posts that follow will reference the above map.
It takes many years to build a great company. Let’s say ten. It splits into two halves, the first trying to find a big enough market with a problem you want to solve. You will need to follow a ‘scientific method’ to not fail here. The next half is growing and improving your business operations to capture the opportunity, before someone else does. This is its own world of special pain and challenges. At around year 4-5, after many false starts, you begin to see evidence you might have something that could last. Then around years 7-8 you feel less paranoid you may go out of business, and even start thinking about the next ten years.
Why You Need the Map
Its really f**ing hard! 70% of venture funded companies fail at 20-months after they get their money. (source: CB Insights). The biggest factor of those failures was having no market (42%). Most start up companies get rejected for VC funding; so you can imagine that only a very small fraction of companies get built to last (or built to any kind of meaningful size). See the diagram below on the size of US companies. Only 0.3% grow to be more than $10m in size.
To avoid being part of the 99.7%, you need the map. It represents the Market Led Scientific Method (MLSM)™ to creating a great business from scratch. My definition of great is we reach more than $10M in annual revenue and will last longer than 10 years. (Noted there are many great smaller businesses, this is not for them)
The Scientific Method
Many of the frameworks you see on the map, are built on the core scientific method of discovering something useful to know. That could be a painful problem or what a good solution could look like. It reduces the chance of avoidable f**k ups; stuff like building a product or service no one wants or selecting a market that is too small to be viable. Most start ups make these errors on the way to success, its much harder to avoid than it is to say, because you have to embrace being wrong constantly. None of us like that ,and we ignore it with excuses on why we could be right. You can google ‘Scientific Method’ and learn about it easily and quickly. Doing it well is a different matter altogether.
Here are some Scientific Methods that are context specific to innovation and building products/businesses. They are referenced in the map and will be discussed on future blogs > how to use them, how they work together and when, and under what context.
Most start ups fail and the 99% of those that don’t, end up being less than $10m per annum in size. The MLSM™ could help make sure your start up is not one of them. It connects the frameworks of the smartest thinkers in innovation and building businesses. I join the dots from my privileged role at Blenheim Chalcot, a leading venture builder, working with early and late stage portfolio companies.
An ask: If you know founders who would benefit from reading this, please pass it on.
Many thanks, Lee
Got to Act1 to begin your own start-up journey.