How Startups (Really) Grow

I like drawing and doodling small things in my many notebooks – I’ve been doing this ever since I had my first physical diary and, for whatever reason, the act of putting pen-to-paper solidifies any concept that I have stuck in my head into something much more understandable.

I sat down with a first-time startup founder earlier this week and while I was walking him through some of the fundamentals of raising venture capital, building teams, finding a cofounder, and a myriad of organizational elements, I kept seeing an image of what I was trying to communicate in my head.

It was only until later when I had an opportunity in-between meetings where I was able to doodle a bit – this is what I was seeing in my mind’s eye:

How Startups Grow

The visual is pretty simple and straightforward: As a company grows in size and age (Y AXIS and X AXIS respectively) from a small, scrappy, founding team to a much larger organization, they will experience moments of crisis and intense periods of rapid change and evolution, violently.

Don’t be surprised, this is as it should be.

The hope and goal is that you and your team will be able to get through these intense periods of struggle and come out better for it, more enthused about the prospects of (continued) success and that you’re team is operating with even more speed and with even greater team alignment.

I ended up expanding on this concept in a much larger post here:

These temporary moments of crisis will make your team stronger, anti-fragile even, and be important parts of the growing story of how you and your team bet against the odds, survived, and kicked ass.