Searching for The Early Founder Cadence
I’ve been quite inspired by David Sacks’ The Cadence ever since I read it. It prescribes an operational process and ideal team structure for a 50-500 person startup - running sales, finance, product, and marketing in sync in quarterly cycles with effective communication between functions.
For example (cribbed from The Cadence):
- Sales: Every quarter begins with a Sales Kickoff.
- Month 2: pipeline inspections. Coaching and adjustments.
- Month 3: heads down, closing.
- Finance: Assume Jan 31 year end. Board meetings 2-3 weeks after.
- Product: Projects get assigned 2-10 engineers for 2-10 weeks. Prune scope creep until it fits. This means Product promises Marketing a major product release every quarter.
- Marketing: can now plan for “lightning strike” launches every quarter. “One user conference per year and three smaller webinars or city events”.
- Event in middle of each fiscal quarter so as to not put stress on entire company at once.
There is no equivalent prescriptive starting point for solo founders today, other than the YC cadence. I would like to iterate my way towards one that I believe in and fully practice. I will keep updating this post until I am there. Please help me fill in the blanks if you see something important I haven’t explicitly written down as it likely indicates that I am underprioritizing it.
- Overall decision criteria is Make Something People (Businesses) Want To Pay For
- Keep the overall problem/vision/mission as north star, continually refine/strengthen it
- At least 50% of work time each week spent on The Main Thing. Keep it the Main Thing.
- (If Main Thing is not clear, I am not a founder but a random hacker. Not good.)
- I get praise when I am generally knowledgeable, but I only get paid when I am a good point solution
- Important side quests are allowed, encouraged, and budgeted:
- Experimenting with different solutions to problem, quick wins
- Keeping up to date on industry trends/papers/news/people
- Networking with potential custs/hires
- Monthly cadence rather than quarterly to reflect smol size
I am not spending a ton of time explicitly on hiring because hiring only gets easier once I launch/get customers/build product to show people where I am going. This may be a mistake since it is contra some wisdom.
- Week 1: Plan
- Investor email
- Week 2: Build
- Make it work
- Deploy stably
- Week 3: Test
- Get feedback from friends
- Make it good
- Week 4: Launch
- I’m decent at this one
- Try/learn one new thing from my todo list
- To do every weekend
- reflect on what I shipped, what went well, what did not go well (
- Identify what help I need AND ASK FOR IT
- Cut one obligation/inefficiency
- Look ahead and plan the next month/quarter, esp travel
- To do every day
- Answer all high pri emails & DMs
- Recap most important thing that happened in my domain for audience
- Work out
- Sleep well
- Eat healthy
Shifting into “founder mode” to get everything I need done means I cannot operate or live like a regular employee-mode person. Time is my most important asset and means I must manage it far more ruthlessly than I have ever done and probably than any close friends of mine have ever done. So I must say no to more of my wants and whimsies than normal:
- No gaming (except Spider-Man 2)
- No TV
- Minimal movies
- Absolute minimum travel (destroys productivity)
That’s as short as I can make it right now.