It's common wisdom in startups that "execution beats talent."

But how do you execute well?

A 7-step framework to figure out what matters and get the RIGHT sh*t done quickly:
Step 1: Pick your north star metric

What's a north star metric?

A single, quantitative KPI that is:
a) measurable
b) easily understood by everyone

Most startups should choose either:
a) revenue
b) active users

Everyone should understand how their role impacts this KPI.
Step 2: Standardize measurement

Measuring revenue or users sounds simple but may not be.

6 years ago we had an Excel dashboard that would run for 3 hours to tell us how much money we'd made, and we couldn't tell if it was accurate.

Or, how do you define an "active" user?
Step 3: Collect ideas relentlessly

As a resourceful entrepreneur, you should always be looking for new growth ideas and actively soliciting them from your peers, advisors and research.

Write them all down.
Step 4: Prioritize by potential payoff

Most people do this intuitively.

The key variables for deciding what to spend time on:

- Potential impact on north start metric
- Probability of success
- Opportunity cost / cost of failure
- Time involved
- Effort level
Step 5: Get to work, urgently

Launch as many top ideas as you can.

Do each just well enough to tell if they have promise.

Most things don't need to be done perfectly to gauge their potential.

If something shows promise, dial up your focus and effort on it.
Step 6: Reprioritize based on early signals

For ideas with short time horizons you'll start getting feedback quickly.

Feed this back into your prioritization.

Weak impact on north star -> decrease focus
Strong impact on north star -> increase focus
7. Get back to work, urgently

By cutting weak ideas quickly and doubling down on winners, you'll constantly be honing in on work that impacts your north start metric.

It's really that simple.
Pitfall #1: Long-term payoffs

Some ideas may take a long time to know if they'll work.

Try to find a proxy of success to shorten the timescale.

For example, instead of spending 6 months building a "killer" feature, do user testing or customer surveys on its potential value.
Pitfall #2: Perfectionism

Perfectionism is the enemy of execution.

Very few things need to be perfect.

A sign of good judgment is knowing what those few things are.

If you can spend 20% of the time and get 80% of the information, do that.
Pitfall #3: Idea attachment

Don't get attached to your ideas...

Most won't work anyway.

It can be tempting to root for certain ideas and then stick with them for too long when you should cut and run.

Especially if you've had to justify doing it.

Watch yourself.

1. Define north start metric
2. Standardize measurement
3. Collect ideas relentlessly
4. Prioritize by potential payoff
5. Get to work, urgently
6. Reprioritize based on early signals
7. Get back to work

1. Long-term payoffs
2. Perfectionism
3. Idea attachment
Bonus: At some point saying NO to less valuable ideas becomes as important as saying YES to great ideas.
If you found this helpful please retweet the first tweet because others might too.

Follow me at @bbourque for threads on startups and marketing.
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