Momentum is incredibly important to the success of a startup. Showing up early and staying late won’t mean anything unless there are clearly defined routes to achieving and sustaining momentum. According to Sam Altman:
The prime directive of a startup is to never lose momentum. When you lose momentum, you’re done.
Momentum is usually captured when a startup is scaling-up. This occurs when a startup establishes a beachhead expanding into new market segments. However, momentum is a result of small, digestible movements made in one positive direction in the early stages of a startup. Movements validate assumptions based on key findings derived from qualitative and quantitative metrics. Without actionable movement there can be no momentum.
Startups fail more often than not because they jump to conclusions without proper market research. Drawing a circle around a big number on a fancy slide doesn’t equate to true market opportunity when you don’t even know who you’re targeting yet. The most significant way to gain momentum is by doing things that don’t scale. Engage with users one-on-one, ask open-ended questions, write notes, sit in a mall and observe prospective customers for hours. Something as simple as creating a landing page pre-product can also pay dividends.
In author Ash Maurya’s case, he launched a landing page, wrote blogs and made guest appearances on podcasts in order to promote his upcoming book at the time, Running Lean. Ash was able to capture potential customer information from day one. By capturing a large list, Ash was able to iterate countless times before even writing his book — writing his book, not publishing it. He’d make a table of contents and ask them if the sequence of chapters made sense. He would refine it with feedback and begin to write two chapters at a time before iterating again and again. His book is now a top seller and continues to bring him notoriety. Ash now has another book on the way, Scaling Lean.
No matter the product you’re selling or the market you have yet to define, it’s more about the movements in the right direction — making every day count. Movement feeds momentum.