Momentum is an often misunderstood phenomenon in life as it is in business. Everyone experiences it in different ways and a relative few intentionally harness it to propel themselves forward. One might describe it as not being able to see the forest because of the trees.
It can be observed in athletes as much as it can in business founders and at Eigenspace momentum is something we are constantly thinking about.
What is momentum?
In the context of life, the simple way to view momentum is as a state of mind where you view your life as progressing and everything that happens is contributing to that. Ideally it is positive but negative momentum also exists. People seem to feel and react to the negative as it seems faster and immediate while the positive is often seen in hindsight.
Building momentum in life is the key to confidence that isn’t fake. In founders, it is how you become formidable and increase your chances of finding success.
Momentum in startups: Make a plan, work the plan, measure, tweak, repeat.
For momentum in startups it is about a lot more than growth. Growth is important as it is measurable (or should be something you can measure be it customers, revenue, etc) but without what I view as persistent velocity, you can’t build momentum.
Momentum is the velocity of growth is so high that it’s own energy along with its market enables the startup to get bigger and bigger becoming a flywheel, which is really hard to stop. [a] The startup has product market fit. [b] The startup has momentum. - Holly Liu, How to Build Startup Momentum
In Holly's post she talks about how much she liked algebra because it was you're solving for mystery x through a series of plug and chug actions.
In startups the x you're solving for is momentum. Growth is required for momentum is essential but not sufficient. Growth is a key component of momentum but there is more. It's about where the growth comes from and how much growth there is.
Growth is the difference between two data points. Velocity is how fast you get between them. Momentum requires that the growth generates additional velocity that increases growth that generates more velocity, i.e., the flywheel.
In order to move, you pick a direction. The important action is to move. Sometimes you don’t know the right direction until you move. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be intentional of your direction. The best way for founders to determine their direction is to set a goal. The goal should be clear and measurable. It should answer the question, how will we know when we succeed? - Holly Liu, How to Build Startup Momentum
Almost all founders place too much weight on things they believe feed growth and velocity. Usually that is external validation from investors or other people that aren’t customers.
Investors do not usually help you build momentum. Recognition does not feed velocity. They can distract you from developing the velocity you need to break away and generate your own energy. They can give you the tools you need though.
Helping founders build momentum
At Eigenspace we believe founders benefit from a little structure and a lot of coaching that is focused on developing goals that keep them going in a direction -- and recognizing when you are changing direction too often or not going fast enough.
We spend a lot of time developing a planning framework customized to each company that enables the founders to meaningfully measure their progress. The plan is a living document that is constantly evolving and incorporating new information but still gives the founders a way to measure their progress and see their momentum as it builds.
There is a gap in the Canadian ecosystem support that is heavily focused on recognition being important and not enough focus on the real work required to help founders move in a direction that builds momentum. The recognition feeds distraction that results in founders not putting enough energy into building velocity in a consistent direction.
We can help you find your velocity and get on your path to success. Apply for our next cohort.