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EPISODE 20

Startup Focus and the Squirrel Swirl

Humans are, by nature, creators. We have new ideas ALL THE TIME. The challenge for us as entrepreneurs and startup founders is understanding when a new idea is an opportunity versus when it’s just a distraction. Plus, how a trip to the grocery store is kinda like vetting and validating your new idea.

In today’s episode, she zeroes in on one central topic: the “squirrel swirl.” You find yourself in the squirrel swirl whenever you should be focused on a particular thing, but still find yourself trying to solve problems.  Since entrepreneurs and founders are idea people whose minds gravitate toward problem-solving, it’s very easy (and common!) to get into the squirrel swirl.  Given how prevalent this experience is among founders, Cynthia wants to spend concentrated time discussing what the squirrel swirl is, how to deal with it, how to discern when it is helpful or not, and how to balance strategy/vision with execution as founders. First looking to the why behind squirrel swirl, Cynthia explains that, since all people are creative, all are susceptible to the experience.  It’s a human thing that doesn’t need to be fought against, but rather managed well.  For the founder, problems arise when you can’t tell if the swirl is aiding or derailing you.  To help navigate the struggle, Cynthia recommends finding a way (like the Precursa scratchboard or blue-sky exercise) to get the ideas in your mind out.  This will free you up to focus on the main project/commitment at hand – your startup and the main why behind it.  Only then can you be free to build your concept to the highest level.  You’ll want to keep that singular focus in view but look at it from two angles: the blue sky view, and the execution step right before you. However, if your why isn’t enough to help you deal with the squirrel swirl, then chances are you aren’t pursuing the right thing.  It’s possible you’d be better off using your current focus as a jumping off point toward a related (but different) aim.  Or you may need to make a hard pivot.  Whatever you do, you want to make sure to get to the major why underlying your startup early in the development process.  If you need help along the way, Precursa is here to help startups get off the ground and thrive! Be sure to like, share, and subscribe to Precursa: The Startup Journey on your favorite podcasting platform and tune in for the next episode – a founders session!  Email us with any questions or comments at startup@precursa.com. Check out our website for more information on getting your startup rolling.

Straight to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Precursa: The Startup Journey. We share the ins and outs of building a tech startup from inception to launch to revenue and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what building a startup from scratch really looks like, you’re in the right place. With full transparency and honesty, we reveal it all about Precursa on our ride from idea to exit: the wins, the lessons learned, and the unexpected twists and turns. Hello. Hi everybody. Welcome back to Precursa: The Startup Journey. as always. I am your host and your entrepreneur on the journey, Cynthia Del’Aria. And today I wanted to talk about this whole thing about staying focused and this squirrel swirl thing. So this one might be a little bit shorter, just a heads up in case you’re like bingeing. And you know, you look forward to the download every week. Like I know a lot of you do, so this one might be a little bit shorter, but I only because I want to focus only on this topic. So we have this term that we’ve kind of coined and you’ll see it on the website, a couple of places. And you know, we talk about it sometimes as social media, but, and, and I may have even said it a couple of times on the podcast page may have said it even, but as entrepreneurs, as founders, we’re idea people, right? Like we come up with new ideas all the time and I, our brains just are wired that way. That’s how we work. That’s how we function. We wouldn’t know the world any other way than to see problems and try and solve them and come up with new ideas. Right? The problem with it is it’s really easy to get into what we call the squirrel swirl and what the squirrel swirl is, is when you’re you should be working on an idea, right? Like you’ve got a company you’re working on for us. It’s Precursa right now, which has a very particular mission and a very particular problem we’re trying to solve. And you know, all the things, but your brain is still creating new ideas. It’s still thinking up new things. It’s still trying to solve problems. Many of which a lot of the time may not be related at all to the thing that you’re doing primarily. And that can be exciting as a founder. It can be frustrating as a founder, there can be a temptation to feel like the new thing is better than the thing you’ve been working on for three months or six months or two years or whatever. And so what I want to talk about, why do we have this thing as founders? What do you do about it? How do you know when the squirrel swirl is trying to help you pivot into direction? It’s going to be better versus when it’s only creating a problem in terms of distracting you and ultimately how this leads into the conversation about your job as a founder, is to learn to balance strategy and vision with execution and to do that balancing act really well. So let’s start at the beginning and just talk about why are, why are we wired this way? I actually think, and you know, other people have had different opinions on this, but I actually think that all people are always coming up with new ideas. All people are creative and it’s different ways, right? Like some people are coming up with new ideas that are related to art or mediums that they could use for building art. Some people are creative with technology in ways that they can use technology to do things. Some people are creative with physical goods, right? Like, like building new stuff or new types of architecture that is more efficient or earthquake proof or whatever. Right. I think that all people, it is essentially human to be a creator, to be creative, to be coming up with new things, building new things, having ideas, it’s human, it’s part of the human experience. So the first thing about understanding why we have this, the only reason it’s ever a problem for a founder to be having all the, all the ideas is if you can’t get yourself focused. And if you can’t recognize what are the ideas that are worth my time and energy, what are the ideas that are forwarding? Whatever I said, I was up to what are the things that are derailing me from my commitment to the idea that I said I was committed to, right? That’s only when it becomes a problem. Otherwise coming up with new ideas all the time is never bad. You know, actually in Precursa, we have what we called the scratch board, where you can go drop new ideas in there and you don’t have to do a thing about it right now, but you can take notes on it. If you think of something else about that, you can go add it to that idea and you don’t have to do anything with it ever. Or if at some point you decide, you know, let’s, let’s say that you are working on your current startup and you know, it’s not going anywhere. And you decide to let that one go or you get through your customer validation. You’re like, wow, there’s no way to build a business doing this thing. Although it’d be really cool. I’d have to do it like as a nonprofit or, you know, as a hobby project, I don’t want to do that. 05:38 Or you exit, right? Like you do all the work and you build all the things and you have a big exit and you come back to your scratch board and you go, Ooh, I like that idea. Maybe, maybe we start next with that idea. Right? Part of the thing that keeps it swirling around in there is you need to get it out. And that doesn’t mean get it out, like go pursue it. It means get it out on paper, get it out, you know, onto your phone somewhere, get it out in a way that you won’t lose track of it because the minute you get it out, then your mind is freed up again. And you can focus on the thing that you were committed to and your brain isn’t swirling around in there trying to keep hold of that nut so that it doesn’t lose it. Okay. So think of the scratch board, like your tree full of nuts, and you can feel very confident that they’re still going to be there and it’s going to be safe and protected. So you can come back to it and revisit it a different day when you’re not already building a startup. So there’s a reason this exists exact thing is the reason why the blue sky exercise comes very first in Precursa. So when you sign up for Precursa, you know, you’ll start an idea. You know, star, we CA we call, you know what eventually is a startup company. We call them ideas. And the reason that we call them that is because we want you to still be thinking about it in the ideation phase, because we want you to be open to hearing all the, all the input that you’re going to get from users that you’re going to talk to. We want you to be hearing, listening for pivots and lifts, running for opportunities to expand a market or niche down somewhere that, that make your idea more successful, right? So we call them every, every time you start a new thing, a new startup in Precursa, it’s a new idea. So when you start a new idea, you’re going to answer a few questions about like, is it a B2B? Is it Adidas C is there a hardware component? Is it a SAS? Is it a one-time sale? Is it an app? Is it a website? Like, we’re going to ask you some, some basic demographic questions to kind of build your smart checklists, like all the pieces that you need to know. And the pieces that you need to be accomplishing for that are, that are particular to your idea. Because if you don’t have a hardware component, we don’t need to talk to you about manufacturing. We don’t need to talk to you about building a bill of materials, right? Like there’s all these things that you don’t need to know. So, so we don’t need to present you with that stuff. And that doesn’t need to factor into your score and the feedback that the platform has given you. So we asked you those questions and the very next thing we give you is essentially a blank slate where we say, and this is exactly how we word the question. If you had a magic wand and you could wave that magic wand and have your idea be real today, right now at the end of waving, right? It’s all there. It does everything. You’d love it to be able to do what would it do? Write it all down. Right. And so, you know, we’re still working on the user experience for this. I think there’s probably going to be something like, you know, you add stickies to a board and if you, you know, layer those stickies on top of each other, it groups. And so you can sort of like, okay, here’s all the stuff that’s related to reporting and being able to visualize data. And here’s all the stuff related to how we talk to users and, you know, like, but we, we say, get it all out. Like this is, this is the big dreaming time. If it could do anything, what are all the things? And the reason we do this is exactly the reason why we have the scratch board. And it’s exactly the problem of squirrel swirl, which is until you’ve had the opportunity to get it all out. It’s rolling around in there and you’re, you’re full, there’s no room for new information. So we have you do the blue sky exercise, get it all out of your head, which makes you kind of like an empty vessel who can now start to creatively. Think other things about that idea. Now it’s not, it’s not like we’re gonna say, okay, now let’s go through all the ideas. You know, it’s about this idea, but we want you free. We want your mind opened up. We want your mind empty enough that you can hear what’s coming at you from different angles. As you work through the process of vetting and validating your idea, what is the problem you’re really solving? And can you articulate it? Who are you solving it for? When you talk to them about the problem, what do they say about it? Are they intending on solving it, but probably never will because their intent is bigger than their behavior, or is it so painful that they will not only change their habits, but they will spend money. They will do anything to get it solved. Like where are they in that range? Right. One example I love to use. 10:37 I have a client, uh, who is building an app to help parents engage more with their children, whether it’s on the topic of stuff they’re doing at school or about character traits, they’re trying to help their kids build. They want to create more parent child engagement, right? And one of the things that we have uncovered in doing data analysis on their customer validation is that every parent intends to spend more time with their kid or intends to be more engaged with their kid and get more interested in their kid. But their behaviors reflect that they’re unlikely to actually take any action on that intent. It’s not because they’re bad parents. It’s not because they don’t actually care. It’s just because life gets in the way. And, and when faced with more engagement or making sure my kid eats and gets a shower or a bath and gets their homework done and gets to bed on time, we’re always going to go for the other thing, right? Like engagement is going to take a back seat to life happening. So we want you, if we hadn’t done the blue sky with that client before he went and talked to all of these, all of these parents and about how they engage with the children in their lives, he wouldn’t have been able to hear that because he wouldn’t have been able to understand why he needed to craft questions that removed his biases, biases, biases, biases about his idea and the brilliance of it. And all of that. If he couldn’t remove his bias, and if he couldn’t remove the bias from the questions he was asking in the way he had the conversations, he wouldn’t have been able to hear basically what he said to me, which was, huh, we were kinda miss the mark and what we’re trying to build. Parents want something, but they don’t have, you know, there’s lots of stuff out there and they don’t do it because they’re just, they’re too busy. So it’s gotta be something that fits within what they’re already doing. And doesn’t require them to do like wildly different things than the things they’re already doing. Cause they just won’t, that’s exactly what he needed to get out of his customer validation. But if he wasn’t emptied out first, if he didn’t feel like he’d had a chance to communicate and get down all of the things that were important to him about building this and all of the things he wanted it to do and all the ways he thought he was going to solve this problem, he wouldn’t have been able to hear it. So it’s the same with the squirrel swirl. When you, you know, as a founder, like I said, you’ve got, you likely have all these ideas that are rolling around in your head and you’re trying to, you know, you’re, you’re like, oh my gosh, I have three new business ideas. I could start tomorrow. And that’s good. Cause you’re a founder. You’re you are a serial entrepreneur or a potential serial entrepreneur or potential first-time entrepreneur. That’s good. More ideas mean that you can find the one that really sings that really fits the why is huge for you. And your soul is like that one, that one, that one. Right. But you have to be able to get the other stuff out of the way. So for me is my focus, right? And everything that I do right now from the work that I take into my consulting company, to the way that I spend my free time, all of it is organized around Precursa, getting what it needs and being successful in getting off the ground. Right? Every time I have a new idea for something else that I could to do something I could be doing, some of them are really interesting to me. I have a place where I write them all down so that I can free my mind up and get back to the focus that I need to have on Precursa, because here’s the reality had a coaching call a couple of weeks ago with this really wonderful woman. Uh, she’s based out of Southern California. And we got on the phone, she was referred to me through an attorney that works with, uh, entrepreneurs. And we got on the phone and I said, so I said, you know, I, her the spiel about what I do. And I said, so tell me what’s up, what’s going on with you? She was like, well, she’s like, I have these two companies that I’m working on right now. And she starts talking about the one and how she’s with it in her, in her business partner. Who’s also a very good friend of hers. 15:03 And you know, they’re struggling a little bit cause they have different, different views on the direction of the branding and the messaging and all that kind of stuff. And, but she really, really loves this thing. And then, but then this other one, this other company she’s working on more her brainchild and supply chain and all of a sudden she’s talking about it. And all she’s talking about is how, how awesome this company is. Right. And with the other one, all she talked about where all the problems with it. And so I listened for a little while and she said, so what do you, I think, and I said, here’s what I hear you. You are trying to spread yourself between two companies. And whether it’s because you don’t want to have a difficult conversation with your friend who you love or it’s because you just aren’t aware you, you actually can’t do two things like having your focus split in this way means neither of these things is going to be as successful as it could possibly be. And I said, now I suspect that you got into the one thing with your friend because you love her. And because you’re a branding expert in a marketing expert and she was like, Hey, come be my co-founder and do the marketing and branding except that because you’re not on board with her vision, you’re actually not able to even do that job for her, what you should probably be doing. Because when you talk about the other one, you’re way more passionate. You’re way more animated. You’re way more lit up. That’s your brain child. You have the vision of it. But what you should do is offer to consult for your friend. Maybe you do it in exchange for some equity, but it’s not your company. It’s her company. And she’s asking you to be the branding expert too, help her express her vision to help her talk to customers, talk to potential customers and express her brand in a way that is what she envisions. That’s not being a co-founder, that’s helping your friend build her company and being her branding expert her face. She was like, oh my gosh. She’s like, you’re right. And, and she just, the thing that I’m saying, the thing that she got in that conversation, and she, she emailed me about two weeks later and was like, oh my gosh, I so needed to hear what you had to say and the way that this is all kind of shifted since we talked, it’s really amazing. I’d love to get on the phone and kind of chat with you again. And, you know, definitely she’s she wants to sign up for my coaching program. You know, I think I’m going to have a slot available in, uh, in September. But the thing that she got that we as founders forget is your focus is right required in order to build something to the level that it can, the highest level that it can possibly be. If you’re spreading yourself between 2, 3, 4, 5 things that can’t happen. You know? So if, if I was trying to build Precursa and trying to build two other startups at the same time, and I was the CEO and the visionary and the found new primary founder of all of them, that would never work because it’s not possible for me to be the level of committed and creative and invested in more than one thing at a time. That’s just not how this works. And you may think, well, I see investors who are invested in lots of ideas that when I, yeah, because there’s somebody else running the business and there’s somebody else coming up with ideas and they’re advising you can be on lots of boards of directors. I mean, I know people who are on 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 different boards of directors, you can do that. You can advise us. I mean, I, I, I’m a coaching consultant. I advise 20 or 30 startups at a time sometimes, but I’m not a stakeholder or an owner in all of those owner, meaning from a mental investment or a physical, I am in the business day to day, every day, on-goingly making it happen, making it work. You cannot do that for more than one company at a time. So getting the ideas out of your head and then getting back to your commitment, getting back to your focus, this is one of the tricks of being an entrepreneur and why it’s a trick why you have to, this can be learned. We’ve talked about this before, but I want to dive into it a little bit deeper today. The real trick is keeping the strategy, keeping the vision, keeping the longterm, keeping that blue sky as like that’s the direction we’re going, but understanding you’re not always going to be executing on the entire thing. Right? So really when I say focus, you have to have one goal, which for us is build Precursa. And then you have to be able to hold two things about that goal in your head. At the same time, one is like I said, that’s the direction we’re going. There’s the blue sky. There’s where we ultimately want to be. And adjusting that and tweaking that as need be as, as new information comes, comes to you. Like we talked about last time, but you also have to be executing. And what you’re executing on is not always and, and is actually, I’m going to say very rarely that full direction, that full vision, what you’re usually executing on is what’s the next incremental step that provides value that we need to take and that we need to execute on. And sometimes it can be baby steps, right? Like for us right now, we’re getting an MVP out the door. 20:39 Now it’s not really a baby step, but it is kind of a baby step. Because if you look at our blue sky and then you look at what our MVP is, there’s a huge gap between those two things. But that’s how it should be. Because if we spend too much time trying to boil the ocean and build the whole world, our solution will never get out. There will never be solving the problem. And at any level for anyone, and eventually someone will come along and do something that takes our legs out from underneath us. You know, you hear investors say, and I heard this again just the other day on a podcast. An investor said time is the most expensive thing. If I was in the room with that investor, I would say, I agree with you to a point, time is expensive if you’re wasting it, but rushing something is another way where it becomes really expensive. Because if you rush something, you miss something and you can’t execute to the fullest level of your ability that way either. So you might hear that sometimes where investors are like, well, why is it taking so long? Or how long is it going to take to get a return or, you know, and especially VCs, they are like, I want to give you money. I want to push wish, wish for push. And I want to get 10 times my money out in the next two years, right? That’s why there may come a time where you realize that you want to raise more money or you need to raise money, but VC is not the right, right place for you. The real trick here is what’s the smallest amount of value that I can create. That’s incrementally more value than I’m creating. Now that is meaningful, right? And that’s what I’m saying. The balance of strategy and vision. This is the direction we’re going, but in order to get there, we have to take all the steps along the way. So like, think about it this way. You say, I’m going to walk down to the grocery store and get these five things that are on my list. And then I will walk home with my groceries and put them away. Okay. So if that’s, our goal is to go, is to walk to the grocery store. We have the end goal in sight, which is all of my groceries in my house. And me having gotten a walk, right? Like it could be that simple, but I still have to take every one of the steps between my house, in the grocery store. I still have to walk to the aisles and pick up incrementally. Like, it’s not like I’m going to walk to the door and all the groceries that I need are going to be sitting right there. I mean, now we have online groceries, which is kind of defeating the point of my story, but you get what I’m saying, right? Like I have to walk to each of the aisles and along the way, I’m creating value because as I’m walking to the grocery store, every step is getting me one step closer to the grocery store. When I go down an aisle and pick up one of the things on my list, one of the things on my list is in my cart, I have added value to myself. Once I have those groceries. Now I’m taking all the steps that it takes to get back home. Every step is adding incremental value. I haven’t lost sight of the vision, but I also know that in order to accomplish that, I have to take each of the individual steps along the way. That’s what you’re doing as an entrepreneur and as a founder and the focus, if, if along the way to the grocery store, I’m like, oh, I’m going to stop off and grab a pizza. Oh, and I totally forgot that I need to go to the post office. So I’m going to go do that too. This is when you end up back at home and go, why forgot to go to the grocery store? Which was the thing I set out to do anyway. Now that doesn’t mean that getting a pizza and going to the post office, weren’t important. And maybe that added value. And maybe that was my pivot, but allowing myself to get distracted and not plan for those distractions or, or if I would have said, you know what, I’m going to finish this grocery store thing. And then I will go to the post office and then I will pick up a pizza. Like that makes more sense in terms of execution, without the ability to take those things that are coming at you and put them in a place where your brain can stop thinking about it, because you’re not going to forget it. And your brain is oriented around survival and forgetting my might be, you know, equivalent to death in that case, in your brain, right? Your brain doesn’t know the difference between forgetting something and it’s no big deal or forgetting something. And, oh my gosh, this is going to be monumental later. Your brain just doesn’t know the difference it’s oriented to help you survive. And survival is don’t forget these things. They might be important. Everything’s a tiger. Right? So what, uh, what I’m trying to get you to see is that focus, having a singular goal, a singular aim, a singular direction, and end point in mind and working towards that, there are going to be objections along the way. There’s going to be pivots along the way. That’s not the point. You know, you’re going to hit roads that are close to you and you have to go back and find a different route. 25:30 Like the point is not that you get there as fast as possible. The point is the more distractions you have, the less likely you are to get any way. So the squirrel swirl is it. I actually just part of being a founder who is creative and who has ideas and who wants to solve problems and who loves people, or who has a heart for, you know, solving problems and P right? Like, there’s nothing wrong with it. Don’t fight it, have a strategy for dealing with it. And know that again, I’m going to come back to this again. I do it in almost every episode. It’s so funny, but it’s so, it’s so true. And so I just can’t say it enough. And I think it’s really important if the Y for the thing that you’re going after, isn’t big enough to that your strategy for dealing with all the other ideas that come up, doesn’t stop you from trying to pursue multiple things at once. Then you’re not pursuing the right thing. There is nothing more important to me than Precursa getting out in the world. Nothing. Absolutely. Nothing is more important to me than, yeah, because this problem of entrepreneurs wasting time and money when they didn’t have to incubators and accelerators and investors putting time and energy and resources and, and, you know, strategic advice and advisory advice into entrepreneurs who have wasted time and money without realizing that they have done that. That’s all a bunch of waste that doesn’t have to exist. It’s a preventable problem. And I see it all the time and it hurts me because of Doug, because I know that Doug, Doug ruined his life. That’s a big enough why that everything else that comes into my awareness and every other cool problem that I could be solving in every other startup that I could be, you know, putting my time and energy into, it’s just going to have to wait. And I have a strategy for those. I have a scratch board where I put those ideas and I put those things. And I, I, you know, I am an advisor on some other startups Precursa, my 100% focus though. So I, you to consider, I want you to get honest with yourself. The first thing I want you to get honest with yourself about is, do you have a strategy for dealing with the squirrel swirl every time you get a new idea, do you have a strategy? Do you have a scratch board? Do you have a place if you don’t, as soon as Precursa is available, sign up because you’ll have a scratch board and you can go in and start as many ideas as you want and do the blue sky and let all those be out there as your scratch board. Do you have a strategy for your squirrel swirl? And then the other thing you got, I got to get honest about is the why for the thing that you’re focused on right now, the thing that you’ve said, this is where I want to put my time. This is where I want to put my energy is your why for that thing, big enough, that there’s nothing that could cross your plate. That would make you rethink your focus. Now, when I say that there may come a time when you get the opportunity to focus on something that you realize is an even bigger, why for you making a decision like that can be painful. It can be scary. You know, if something crossed my desk and I was like, oh my gosh, this is, this is even bigger than Precursa. This is more important this, oh my gosh, this, this is the bigger, why, well, now I’m faced with a very difficult decision. Do I set Precursa side? Or is there some other strategy? I can’t focus on two things at once. So here’s the real example for me. This entrepreneur problem is the precursor. That’s kind of funny too. The bigger problem that I’m trying to solve, which is there is skew in investment dollars for startups, particularly in technology, but actually across, across the street community. The skew is that the and racial makeup of companies that are getting investment dollars does not match the gender and racial makeup of the founder committee. So last year, 2020 really wasn’t measurably any different in this statistic, but invested money. You know, there was something like a hundred, 111 or 112 billion with a B dollars invested in, in startups last year, only two and a half percent of that went to female founders. When you look at, and it would be one thing if we said, oh, well only about 3% of companies are being started by women. 30:26 It’s actually 48% of founders are women. That’s a huge problem. It’s not that men have better ideas than women. It’s not that men are better managers than women. It’s not that men are better at building startups than women. I don’t know the source of this problem yet. I know some of the sources of it and, and I help female founders that I work with, deal with it in, in a lot of different ways, but there’s, uh, people of color, same thing, something, something close to 15 or 18% of founders are people of color, black people, Latino people. Um, Asians actually are a larger portion of that. And they get like, uh, black founders get 0.0, zero 6% of funding. So I think there are some cultural biases that we have that are contributing to this, but the reality is what I want. One of the, when I can solve this problem in Precursa, then I can solve the next problem, which is I’m gonna, I’m going to put a bunch of money into a fund. I’m going to do some research. I’m going to invest in some companies. And I’m going to see if I can figure out how do we shift that gap? And that’s going to take a lot of money to do. And I don’t want to run a fund where I have to go raise a bunch of other people’s money to do it now, based on what I learned last week, about the value of fundraising and helping you hone and refine and solidify and gain more confidence in what you know, and what you know, you don’t know about your company, probably I’ll still raise anyway, but it’s going to take a lot. And I, I want to have this information. Here’s what I suspect. I suspect that the more ideas end up in Precursa and the more incubators and accelerators and investors are using that data to find ideas that they like and to do some pre due diligence on ideas that they like and eventually to invest in companies. I think you’re going to see just by, just because the nature of Precursa is that we take your founder experience and background into, into account in your Precursa. We know nothing about your gender. We don’t care. We know nothing about the color of your skin. We don’t care. So what we’re doing is actually removing those biases from a lot of the early decision-making and a lot of the early introduction process. And what I suspect is that we’re going to see a more level playing field, come out of working with Precursa anyway, but then I want to take that to the next level. Here’s the thing, the next level thing is actually the larger, why, so rather than get distracted and say, well, I’m going to try and do both of these things at once. What I’ve realized is the why for Precursa, again, it’s kind of funny is the precursor to figuring out the larger, why. So now what I’ve done with this, this other thing that’s really like, even bigger. Why for me is I’ve put it just behind the why of Precursa so that when I’m looking, if I, if I’m looking down the road and what I’m looking at is my goal and where I’m heading headed, the intermediate step is Precursa. Okay. And what’s right behind that. As the longer term, the book, the larger goal, the larger vision is solving this other problem for equalizing the playing field leveling the playing field. And that doesn’t mean, you know, when, whenever I say equal opportunity, you know, a lot of people here, everybody needs to win. No, but everybody should have an equal opportunity and should be judged against the same criteria for having the chance to get the win and get money and, and build their thing. And that’s the piece that doesn’t exist today in my view. So there may be an opportunity to use the thing that you’ve already been working on as a, as a jumping off point, like keep working on that because it gives you a jumping off point to do the, the other thing in a different way, or at a bigger, bigger level, higher level, whatever that is. You may at some point have to make a decision and say, oh, I don’t. I think, uh, it may not even be a pivot. It may be, this is the wrong thing to be building. I want you to get to that point sooner. And that’s why Precursa is designed the way that it’s designed. And again, going back to the squirrel swirl, and how do you stay focused and strategy versus execution, the sooner you can start to get at the underlying why, and what’s the problem and who are you solving it for? 35:16 The more you’re going to know if it’s the biggest, most important one for you and making that decision sooner. Like if you get three quarters of the way through the Precursa process, you know, for vetting and validation, which is only the first stage, by the way, right. Following that is okay. Now I’ve said, I want to go, I want to build this thing. How do I get, how do I, how do I launch and execute on my MVP? Okay. Now my MVP is out the door. How do I scale and grow? How do I build processes and infrastructure that makes it possible for me to scale and grow? How do I keep my customers happy? Okay. Now I’m at a place where I’m starting to scale. I’m growing, it’s happening fast. How do I get myself ready for an exit? Like what’s required for that. When do I take more capital? Do I need more capital? What’s the benefit? You know, like all those things. And then eventually, okay, exited my company. Now, what do I do? Right? So there are future phases that will help you through the entire life cycle of your startup, but the vetting and validation phase, which is what we’re talking about now is the best opportunity to change direction, make a big pivot, or completely abandoned an idea, and start, start working on something else because you’ve invested the least amount of time, the least amount of money. You, you haven’t gotten a bunch of investors involved yet. Like this is why this process is built. The way that it’s built for this very reason. So the two takeaways today have a strategy for your squirrel. Swirl, have a scratch board, have a place where you can put down. I had this idea. I think it could be really cool, but this, this is my strategy for not derailing my focus away from the thing that I’m committed to right now, value that process like have value in the process of really diving into the thing that you say you’re committed to doing customer validation. What is the problem I’m solving? Because that’s how you don’t become Doug right now. Doug’s problem wasn’t that he had some other idea that seemed better. And he was like, oh, I’m just going to abandon it. Doug’s problem was, he was a pro, he was a product looking for a market. What I suspect is if Doug had done this work, what he w he would have revealed for himself, there wasn’t a market for what he was trying to build, but he also would have been listening. And he might’ve discovered a pivot. That was something that people wanted. And all of a sudden his, why would have shifted and been like, oh, well, this is a much better why than what I was trying to go after, before, too. Like, that makes so much more sense. So he would have had his big why, and he would have had a market, right? Like, there’s actually no doubt in my mind. And maybe he would have a different opinion, although I don’t think so after our lunch, but there there’s no doubt in my mind that would have gone differently for Doug. And he wouldn’t have been a product looking for a market. That’s what I want for you. I want you to be so confident, not only in the why, but also in the what and the viability of what you’re doing, that the squirrel swirl is just kind of in the background and the scratch board, or some kind of like getting it out on paper, getting out of your head and moving on and continuing on the thing that you’re committed to is exactly like it is for me with Precursa and then this other goal, right. Where you’re like, oh, it makes total sense. Like it’s all coming together and the direction makes sense for me. So yes, it can be difficult to stay focused as an entrepreneur. Yes. We all have a gazillion new ideas every day. That’s okay. Have a strategy, but stay committed, like make sure that your, why is a big enough why, and the sooner you do that work, and the sooner that you do the customer validation work, the more likely it is that you don’t end up in a painful position where you’re making a big pivot when you’ve already got other people’s money in the game, or you’ve already put a bunch into, you know, several, several versions of a product. And now you’re like, oh my gosh, it’s the wrong thing in the wrong. And we have to change our branding and all like the sooner you do this stuff, the better. All right. So our next session is our founder’s session. And one of the things that we’re going to talk about, I want to talk a little bit more because we’re going to have Sarah on the phone about Tam salmon som. So total addressable market serviceable, addressable market, and then the size of a serviceable obtainable market. So I want to talk about that a little bit. I’m still trying to clarify this with our new business model for myself. Are we talking about users? Are we talking about the cost of products for the, all those, like, what are we really talking about? And then I also want to talk to them about overwhelm when all the things feel like it’s too much, but you don’t see any other way to get stuff accomplished. Like how do you juggle all the things and how do you prioritize, right. 40:11 Because I’m dealing with this right now, and we’ve been talking about it a little bit. And so I’d like you to hear from other founders perspectives. How are we, I want to actually work through, like, what do we do about this on the F on the podcast together so that you can hear what a session like that sounds like. And maybe you can get some ideas if you feel overwhelmed too. Cause that’s not an uncommon experience for an entrepreneur at, to, you know, I hear people, entrepreneurs tell me all the time, I’m just overwhelmed. There’s so much to do. I don’t know how to book, you know, and sometimes you just need somebody to help you prioritize. What’s the next most important thing and give you permission to just focus on that until it’s done. Okay. So until then, if you have any comments, if you have any questions, if you want to argue with me, if you’re interested in being on the podcast and you’re a founder, or you want to argue with me on the podcast, send me an email, send me an email at startup@precursa.com, and I would love to hear what you have to say and see if we can make something happen. So until next time happy entrepreneuring. And I’ll see y’all soon. Thank you for listening to this episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey. If you have an idea for a startup and you want to explore the proven process of turning your idea into a viable business, check us out at precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, so you never miss an episode. Until next time…

Cynthia Del'Aria

Cynthia Del'Aria is a serial entrepreneur and tech startup ninja, specializing in product-market fit and idea validation and helping new entrepreneurs reserve their time and money for the idea with the best shot at success. With two successful exits before 30, an active high-profit-margin SaaS in the commercial airline space, and two additional startups in the works, she knows what it takes to traverse the entrepreneur journey, the highs, and the challenges of turning a vision into a successful, viable business.

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  • Denver, Colorado

  • startup@precursa.com

Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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