The Crucial Art Of Momentum Management, part deux

In the previous post, we talked about managing YOUR momentum in the startup process, about how we have to strike when the iron is hot and take advantage of our energy.

But what happens now when you’re now working with a team of either founders or employees?

Things become a bit trickier because now the startup exists outside of you. It now exists in your co-founders/employees, as well as the product you are now presumably working on.

Identifying Momentum Shifts

First of all, you have to be able to learn to READ how your momentum is. Is there an impasse in activity? Is output slower?

Sometimes the signs are subtler: has a co-founder’s energy dwindled? How does undergoing your first bad break affect the team?

The more you get to know your team, the better you would be at reading the signs.

Then, as startup founder and dreamer, it is up to YOU to ensure energy is sustained, up to you to pick guys up.  I have yet to meet a startup founder who can be described as “low batt.” They can’t afford to. When momentum slows and the difficult times come, people look to the founder for motivation and energy.

Challenge: Doing It Part-Time

For practicality purposes, a lot of startups are founded by people with fulltime day-jobs working on the startup part-time, very typically with other part-time co-founders.

This is a challenge because it becomes easy for people to miss meetings, or miss updates, or miss deadlines. String together a few of these and sometimes before you know it your startup is dead – and people are just too distracted/disheartened to pick up the pieces and start anew.

Keeping momentum in this sort of situation requires one thing: that you become relentless. You have to be relentless in finding time to work on your startup. You have to be relentless in keeping your team accountable to deadlines. You have to be relentless in managing and sustaining momentum.

Creating Cadence

There has to be some structure that your team can adhere to and bank on. Introduce these and make sure the team sticks to them. It could be in the form of start-of the week Skype teleconference meetings between the founders, or Googledoc files people fill in with weekly updates, or perhaps 2x a month Saturday lunch meeting. Monitoring progress helps a lot in achieving more of it.

Just Care

In the end, perhaps the most important thing to remember here is that you just have to care enough and do something if you see slippage. Sure, it can be awkward as hell to call out a slow-performing co-founder. Yep, you don’t want to be the bad guy who called that meeting when it’s 5:30 pm on a Friday, and everyone is tired from their day jobs. Someone’s gotta do it though. And yes, that means you.

Hey, no one said it would be easy.

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