Andy Rosic’s Startup Health Check
Hey fellow founder: Your startup has a pulse, and you’re forgetting to check it.
Seriously, with the four thousand demands on your time you’ve more than likely fallen into the trap of forgetting this critical, recurring health check. I certainly did many times myself as a repeat founder. I get it. There’s marketing to do, social media to manage, business plans to tweak, networking events to attend, mentors to learn from, investors to court, customers to find, co-founders and employees to answer, emails to send, pitches to practice, chats to emoji, financials to track, legal docs to snooze, and that’s just the surface stuff. Let us not forget that the primary goal is to build an amazing company of people.
Of course, the next question is: do you even know how to take the pulse of your team?
It’s an honest question, that demands your honest answer—if you want your startup to grow and succeed. Taking your team’s pulse can be painfully brutal, and can often mean some tough action needs to occur. That is probably why so many founders ignore it, “forget” about it, or never dig in to learn how to do it in the first place.
Just like taking your body’s pulse can give a doctor an instant baseline of “heart healthy, move on to why you’re here” or “red flag, let’s start with heart-related questions”, so too can a pulse check of your team tell you whether things are progressing well, so stay focused on key objectives, or whether things are coming quietly unraveled, and you better start asking some hard questions.
I am going to teach you how to take the “pulse” of your startup
You can put down the blood pressure cuff, that won’t help you here. I’ve designed a simple survey that helps me measure the health of a startup. The key is that it requires multiple people to answer the survey. To get a sound reading, the survey works best when at least 2 founders take it as well as at least 3 employees. (If you’re a solo founder, then you can either increase the employee sample size or add in advisors, mentors, or similar.) And, it must be anonymous. That is non-negotiable.
The survey itself is simple, but what it’s doing is revealing the early symptoms that indicate larger problems are on the way. Most startup issues begin almost imperceptibly, and by the time anyone notices the much bigger symptoms the damage may already be done. Early diagnosis of health problems in your body, or the lack thereof, works the same way.
The Health Check survey works
Here’s why this survey works. By being anonymous, and by gathering (hopefully) honest responses from a cross-section of your company, it can reveal those early “feelings” or “inklings” that people get when they begin to feel uncertain. Things like all of a sudden an employee is entertaining looking at other local job openings. Or a key person in the startup can’t tell what the most important things are that they should be working on. Someone may feel overloaded by tasks or inboxes, and feels busy, but can’t tell you exactly what they’re accomplishing or how it’s impacting the business. One person may be shifting from previous excitement to come into work over to a growing dread when they wake up in the morning.
Early indicators are so, so crucial. But nobody ever just blurts them out in conversation. Employees will hide things from their bosses out of duty or fear, and co-founders will hide things from each other out of pride. This is why the pulse, the health check, is vital to your success.
I am also giving you the survey
I am going to give you the entire survey below – in whatever tool you use, don’t forget to make it anonymous! Please use it and pass it on to fellow founders. Let me add that with any survey results it’s all in the reading and interpreting of the responses. I do offer this as a service, where you can have me give you a complete analysis of the results. So, if you’re interested, let me pass on some insights to you. I have founded multiple startups, mentored even more, and achieved exits totaling nearly $2Bn.
If you choose to do this yourself, then here is where to start when analyzing the results.
- Multiple similar answers to a question indicates a strong pattern, positive or negative
- A variety of answers to a question indicates a lack of clarity – dig in here!
- Any answer you want to excuse or protest is one you need to immediately do some self-soul-searching on
- Don’t freak out. These are early indicators, and you most likely still have time to correct course
- This is about your whole team’s health, not your ego
- The more painful the responses, the more likely you already know how to fix it
- If you reach uncharted territory, reach out to me 🙂
Download the free survey template.
Or have me review your team – see options below.
As a final note, if your startup is still super-early stage—you only have co-founders—then the health check above is not yet for you. But you’re in luck, I also have a founder questionnaire that serves as a litmus test for how you each are spending your time. By the way, this works for any stage founder. My rough estimate is that upwards of 70% of most startup founders’ time is spent on the wrong things. Let that soak in. 70%. Do you know how to check? More importantly, do you know what to trim?
Like the startup health check? Try taking the Founder Questionnaire!