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This podcast is brought to you by a community of startup builders, founders, operators, and technologists who have launched or helped build game-changing companies.

You’ll hear the guests sharing stories and insights about how they got started, the lessons they learned, and the challenges they overcame during their journey that ultimately led them to success or failure.

In this episode, Tom dives into his own business journey, including how he came to write 5 books, master fit systems, and the leadership paradigm he adopted to make it all happen.

Check out the episode here for a lifetime of startup building and scaling experience summarized in one short hour.

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If your business has become a public company, you have entered an elite group. As of 2019, of the 31.7M businesses operating in the US, just 4,300 were publicly listed. In 2020, just 407 went public in the US. Public company status is rarefied air indeed.

As the senior executive or CEO of a public company, you operate under the bright light of continuous scrutiny. Your financial performance is shared with the world every quarter. Everything you say and do must be done the right way so as to stay compliant with securities law. Despite the many demands of public…

After years of hard work, your enterprise is finally ready to go public. What a monumental accomplishment! Now it’s time to get it done. This decisive company-building stage begins with a decision (“we’re going to go public”) and ends with a defining moment — the sound of the opening bell on your first day of public trading.

If you are ready to go public, you are positioned favorably in the domains of Market, Product, Model and Team. The market continues to evolve favorably for your company. Perhaps your rising market position has even begun to bend the market itself towards…

The highway opens up as you emerge out of the Minimum Viable Expansion stage. Thanks to your years of hard work, the sign for “IPO” can be seen in the distance. Your core business has begun to fire on most cylinders — a solid growth engine. Many expansion initiatives have proven successful; you have begun to integrate these more closely with the core.

Now it’s time for your rising enterprise to deliver IPO-worthy growth rates and prove sustainable competitive advantage. You need to expand your addressable market, perhaps via geographic and vertical expansion. You need a bigger product footprint: it’s…

If you have reached the Minimum Viable Expansion stage, you have a tiger by the tail. Your core business is scaling fast. All of the systems of your business — the revenue engine, the product development engine and the back-end operations engine — are rapidly maturing. You’re continuously at work to elevate the quality of interactions between people, workflows, technology and money flows. Systems thinking predominates as you evangelize standard operating procedures, track metrics and revv up the engines of the business.

As growth in the core business accelerates, adjacent opportunities begin to come into focus. Perhaps new vertical segments…

As your company begins to take off, a different kind of hard kicks in. Now funding pours in to fuel your plans. It’s now time to build out all the product features that fueled your initial vision. Now your revenue engine shifts into fourth gear, as you find new pathways to the customer, elevate messaging and increase conversion. It’s time for the entire business model to mature. As your employee count rises, the socio-technical operating systems that make up your company (such as accounting, human resources, product development and revenue operations) must tighten up and become more mature. In the…

At first, it was a trickle. Then a rivulet. Suddenly all of your hard work has come to this: a steady and rising stream of new customers pours into the pond of existing customers. The pond will soon be a lake. At last, the boat that is your startup is afloat — ready to sail towards greatness.

The Minimum Viable Traction stage is perhaps the most rewarding of all company-building stages to traverse. Yes, you have already achieved a product value and business model breakthrough. But here, in this MVT stage, you take your business model to a whole new…

Congratulations! The evidence is in. You have been able to sell to and retain your first few customers. You have validated that your initial set of features delivers them just enough value for them to stick around. That doesn’t mean these customers are filled with delight yet — many important features are still absent, and the ones you have launched so far provide barely acceptable value in their current state. At this point, all you have established is a tiny beachhead. Now it’s time to expand it.

In the Minimum Viable Repeatability stage, you begin to prove a repeatable business…

Of all eleven stages in company-building, this one is the most important. Everything up to the Minimum Viable Product stage is about discovering and creating new value in a large market. Everything after MVP is about the continuous optimization of the value you’ve created and the building of an unassailable competitive moat. MVP is the pivot point. Once you make it through this stage, you break open the gate of iconic enterprise opportunity.

Having just exited the Minimum Viable Concept stage, you’ve just completed the Four-Way Fit canvas. You have validated its claims (as best you can absent actual customer data). Now it’s time to build something. Feedback from concept testing helps, but nothing teaches like actual product usage. So as you turn to the task of building your initial product, you begin by assembling the right resources, choosing the right priorities and adopting the right mindset. Cash dwindles and your future is on the line; it’s mission-critical work.

Tom Mohr

Founder and CEO, CEO Quest

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