Part 4/6 High Growth for Startups – people to let go, meetings not to have and greasing the cogs. ‘Being ruthless with uncovering things that are blocking you and then dealing with them should feel like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, not a butterfly’s wings being torn off’.

Go back and read the series if you fancy.

Part 1 here

Part 2 here

Part 3 here

Rate Limiting Steps


Once you have your North Star Metric, the raison d'etre of your company, you can draw an accurate path that reaches this goal.

For example, if your goal was 'A million website hits a day', you can draw a path from all the way there, plotting out what you need.

In this process, you will find there are places along this path that are undeniably blocking you achieving your goal, those with the most blockage are the rate limiting steps, these require the most immediate attention and will deliver the best ROTI.

Rate Limiting Conversations

If I am tasked with helping the company grow, and I am in a meeting that doesn't result in that as an outcome, I will ask why I am here and why the meeting is taking place.

I am an absolute stickler for wasted time.

I like to be present as much as possible. Sometimes just sitting still in silence is good enough for me to realise that time isn't flying as fast as I think it is, if the meeting doesn't triple the advantages I receive from having 'me' time, I'm out.

To request a meeting with more than 2 or 3 people who are all on the same path, in my opinion, tells me that this meeting is important. My expectations of the meeting delivering exceptional value are high. If they are not met within the first 5 minutes, the meeting can be pretty excusably abandoned.


A meeting pops in my diary 'Management Expectations'.

It's pretty serious sounding, the 5 members of the SMT are also invited, the CTO is leading.

Upon seating, the CTO says 'So, i've been thinking around the way we are reviewed by our teams, it seems ineffective and I think we should come up with…'

Red flags to me –

'I've been thinking' means 'I have not come up with a workable solution, that's why you're here'.

'It seems ineffective' – 'I've been chastised by an employee/colleague and it's triggered me but it doesn't directly concern you'.

'I think we should come up with'. – 'I have neither spent the time trying to come up with or have failed to come up with…'.

Result –

'Can I ask that we reconvene at a stage where you can show us the improved results you've seen from your own efforts.'

Brutal, but hyper efficient.

This is a very Elon Musk style of working but it's so necessary when it comes to streamlining.

Rate Limiting Employees

This is a pretty tough one to swallow, but having a clear goal makes some positions unjustifiable.

There have been times where the defining of a clear goal has made it overwhelmingly apparent that there is perhaps $ 100k of employee salaries that cannot be justified.


If you have a CPO who leads three product teams (one to create revenue features, one to maximise user growth and the other to clean and tweak the two creative teams) who is informed that her entire focus is now to generate revenue, you can expect a serious reshuffle. A team is now redundant, the other perhaps as well.

The Rate Limiting Step here is her time. She splits it between managing 3 teams and reporting to the CEO, her effectiveness to deliver on the goal of generating revenue only takes up 33.3% of her time. Therefore, removing 33.3% or even more of her now non-vital work will ultimately benefit the company's goals.

Rate Limiting Conversions

In an immediately actionable format, cut the fluff surrounding your marketing efforts.

There are so many unnecessarily indulgent marketing practices that persistently move the needle sideways, not forward.

Brand marketing can be awesome, of course it can be. Cinematic standard display ads, long drawn out youtube infomercials, learn more campaigns; they all impose a feeling on the potential buyer that makes them want to buy your product…. but do the research, are they buying?

If your North Star Metric is '1,000,000 products sold', then some quick analysis will allow you to see if your non-performance marketing efforts are worthwhile.

If the pathway from ad to purchase is very clear and efficient in your performance channels, and all it requires is more spend at the front end to drive conversions, then this is the logical step – as unglamorous as it sounds.

In line with this way of thinking, find the biggest drop off point along this path and tweak it. Is it people going from ad to the site? Site to the purchase page? Purchase page transaction? A couple of % points at the start can result in hundreds more purchases.

Brand is very much the icing on the cake when it comes to startups, but rarely the cake itself.

Rate Limiting Limits

Though a little paradoxical to what I've just mentioned, be cautious not to over do it.

Don't put a Lamborghini engine in a Nissan Micra, the Micra's doors will get ripped off, the brakes won't be able to take it and there will be a car crash.

If you get rid of absolutely everything that isn't black or white, you'll be left with a husk of an organisation without any personality, and it will show.

Being ruthless with uncovering things that are blocking you then dealing with them efficiently should feel like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, not a butterfly's wing's being torn off.

Quick, efficient, process driven work around achieving a specific goal, that can be explained to anyone, will rarely require over-explaining.

If there are sudden bad culture fits once the path to success has been unblocked, you may have discovered further blockers.

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