Reflection is an active part of building a startup, and taking a step back can at times be the only way to move forward. We all know about pivots, which is a favorite word among investors, and though it may be used somewhat liberally the core essence is important. Before moving forward I will provide one example I came across recently:
‘A young startup in its early conception created a business canvas mapping out value propositions, customer segments, key resources, etc. During the first year, where focus was building the team and drafting a prototype, the business canvas was used as a guideline on which direction to follow. Needless to say, during the year long progress, many new ideas were cultivated and used, however, the core essence of the business remained the same. At the end of that first annum, the founders sat down and started a blank canvas, and after a little debate pursued the lean canvas model. While making the new canvas they completely disregarded the old one, wanting to see how they were thinking now in contrast to when they started. The result was quite astounding, with new business segments being discovered and a much more refined approach.’
The lesson I took away from this, is that drafting anew, with a blank page can at times be much more valuable than optimizing. Startups need to be reminded that they are in the business of innovation, and that is not limited to themselves. Disregarding prior work can be essential, as looking back may cloud your vision forward. For tech startups, another reminder is that not just the technology must be 10x better, but the business model itself has to be. Disruption comes just as much from the implementation and handling of the technology as it does from the actual tech itself.
Now it’s important to note that the business/lean canvas example here is just that, an example. There are a myriad of other settings where a blank page approach should be taken, even if everything is going well. Disruptive ideas are born when current norms are disregarded, and the pursuit of disruption is the noblest of goals a startup can take.