Pace of Success

Pacing is everything to a startup.  Are you hustling?  Or are you making excuses for your lack of progress?

Paul Graham said growth is everything for a startup.

Growth is a measure of progress.  Speed or pace is a measure of efficiency and time.  Both concepts together is a measure of momentum.  You need momentum to raise capital.  You need momentum to win.

You cannot directly control growth.  Growth happens as result of performing focused actions to entice it.  The quicker you can iterate and perform these actions and the more focused the actions, the quicker you can grow.

Momentum = Growth * Pace

And now the moral of the story.

You can control pace.

This is why the pace of your startup is a key component of your success.  It makes sense right?  Moving quick helps you be more successful than moving slow.  That is what lean is about.  Iterations.  How much can you learn before your company runs out of resources.  How do we keep the pace high and continue to increase it?  Is it possible to go from low to high just as it is possible to from high to low?  How do you start high and go higher?

Understanding Failure

Growth is measured by the one thing that matters to get the startup to the next milestone.  Yet missing milestones happens.  These mini-failures need to be understood, corrected, and another attempt or pivot made.  They cannot be ignored, excuses should never be made, and they shouldn’t be swept under the table.  These might be natural inclinations however instead we should change the notion of ‘failure’ to a positive experience, one in which the team can celebrate.  After all you learned something and you tried really damn hard.  A startup is a vehicle of learning.

By celebrating failures we reduce the negative associations.  Best case scenario you are part of a team of which you look up to everyone else there.  They can do something you will never have the ability or natural skill to do.  This environment can create pressure to perform at an ever increasing level.  Keeping failure as a tool and not a result will help to alleviate the negative emotions we feel when ‘failing’.

Start Fast & Go Faster

The easiest way to start with your pace set on overdrive.  Push everything.  Challenging everyone.  When forming your initial team they have to be able to hang with the pace you are moving at.  Your co-founders have no choice but to increase (and hopefully not decrease) their pace to match that of the average pace of the team.  When starting with one person and adding more to that team it is vital that each co-founder push each other at every step.  It is hard to continually increase the pace.  It is difficult to find people who thrive in this environment.  Some find it stressful and some just can’t do it.  Take time everyday to set your pace and pick one thing you are going to get done that day.  If you are the CEO focus on creating an environment of focused movements.  You need to be evaluating how people are moving and setting deadlines and goals that aren’t easy or always fun.

Picking Up The Pace

If your team has enough headroom available for an increase in pace, a catalyst can help to refocus the team.  Without a catalyst it may be more difficult to pull everyone up to the next level.  Great catalysts include signing a large partnership, gaining investment capital, adding team members, gaining major traction, or rolling out a platform.  Use these events as a reason for moving quicker.  Each time.  Every time.

Dropping The Pace

Just as with gaining momentum there are often catalysts which may trigger your startups pace to decrease.  Perhaps some kind of major defeat like losing a co-founder, contract, or investment.  Or perhaps it is just apathy.  Watch out for these situations and try and challenge yourself and your team to continual improvements even if things aren’t as peachy as they could be.  Most startups have more defeats than victors so persevering in the face of a lose is critical.


Keep pacing in mind as you are crafting your startup and each day after.  If your gut says things are to slow or stagnant find an excuse to speed them up.  If you co-founders aren’t on board for moving quicker and are slowly killing the business then perhaps they aren’t in the right role or aren’t the the fit.  As a CEO don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions and communicate how you are feeling.  Make sure to ask how everyone else is feeling as well.  Often you can remedy situations before they become problems by listening.  You are out to accomplish a mission, perhaps one of the more difficult things in the world.  Creating a billion dollar business or even a multi-million dollar business isn’t common and you need every advantage available.  It is your responsibility to accelerate or maintain the pace.  It is your responsibility to allow for momentum.  The moment you feel it slipping it could be too late.

Author: Adam Perkins

Startup Entrepreneur from Madison Wisconsin.