Both Fast and Slow-Twitch Muscles Needed for the Start-up Marathon
Marathon runners rely on both slow-twitch muscles for endurance and fast-twitch muscles for power bursts and speed. Taking a company from concept to long-term success can also be seen as a marathon, one that requires an incredible amount of endurance. What many entrepreneurs tend to forget is that every marathon consists of numerous sprints, as well. How well a start-up “sprints” will often dictate the outcome of that marathon.
The best way to keep the whole team focused and—most importantly—accountable, is to schedule weekly sprint meetings. In my experience, sprints are an effective way to set one-week goals and identify a list of action items that designates the responsibilities of each team member. Moreover, weekly sprints help both define, and redefine, the start-up’s short, medium, and long-term objectives.
When a company is new and facing the challenges many start-ups do, it is essential to hold these weekly sprints. As the start-up grows, these meetings can be divided into weekly sales, marketing, technology, or fundraising sprints.
A start-up’s weekly sprint meeting should allow the team to:
- Review the company’s short and long-term goals.
- Assess the sprints for the previous week.
- Discuss the progress of each sprint—What was completed? What wasn’t? Why not?—to ensure the accountability of each member.
- Add incomplete work from the previous week to the new week’s sprints.
- Assign the following week’s sprints for each team member.
Typically I use Sunday evening to schedule my weekly sprints. This allows the team to focus first thing Monday morning on the tasks we need to accomplish that week. Similarly, on Friday afternoon I hold an end-of-week review of the sprints we first laid out during Sunday’s meeting. This allows everyone to evaluate the week’s progress and complete any missed work over the weekend.
As anyone who’s been part of a start-up can attest, ongoing communication between team members is essential. With this in mind, it is important to post the sprints in a shared document that is accessible by the entire team. Generally I ask all team members to highlight each sprint as it is completed, along with a note that details both what has been accomplished and what the next step is. This simple system allows the executive team to monitor how our sprints are progressing over the week.
For any team conditioned to working its slow-twitch muscles for the long-haul of the start-up marathon, it is the sprint and its reliance on fast-twitch muscle power that gives any new venture its ongoing drive. Your company’s weekly sprints are the perfect exercise to make sure its vision for success endures.