The Four Questions Startup Founders Should be Asking

I subscribe to Gary Keller's 'The One Thing' philosophy. If you haven't already done so, read the book. At it's core, Keller implores people to ask the focusing question, which goes as follows:

What is the one thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Keller advocates that people dedicate the first four hours of their day to working exclusively on the answer to that question. However, when it comes to startups, it's easy to feel like you need to solve a million problems, which can make it hard to identify your 'one thing'. This caused a lot of anxiety for me in the early days of Complete (way back in the summer of 2014).

To simplify this dilemma, I created the chart below.

Essentially these are the best questions you can ask regarding hiring, marketing, product and finance. I start out every week asking myself these questions.

If the answer is 'yes' to all of the questions below, you're either doing fantastic or being delusional about what you need. If the answer is 'no' to one of them, continue to ask the focusing question until you arrive at the task that will have the biggest impact on creating a 'yes' answer to that question.

If you're answer is no to several of these questions (which is likely), often times you'll find that if one question is sufficiently answered, it will make answering the other question significantly easier. For example, seed funding became significantly easier once our amazing CTO became part of our founding team. Even though I didn't have the money or people I needed, I attacked the people question first.

I hope this helps you find focus and make the most of your days. Below are answers to a couple FAQ's I receive about the chart:

Why "the people I'll need in 2 months"?

It almost always takes at least two months to make a hire. Therefore it's crucial to understand what you're going to be building, on a high level, two months from today. Are you going to build on another platform? Do upcoming features require more talent?

How do you measure if people are happy?

It's your job to set success metrics regarding signups, engagement and retention. Make sure they're appropriate for your space and stage and act as if a fire is burning if you're not hitting one.