After years of hard work, your enterprise is finally ready to go public. Congratulations: 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 well in the domains of Market, Product, Model and Team. The market continues to evolve favorably for your company. It may even be the case that your company’s rising market position has begun…


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 sorting out the 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 come into focus. Perhaps new vertical segments are ripe for pursuit, if only you…


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 all the product features in your 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 beginning, you were…


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 breakthrough. But it is here, in this MVT stage, that you achieve your business model breakthrough. …


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 provides 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 present provide minimal 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 model. If yours is a very low…


Of the eleven stages in company-building, none is more pivotal than this one. Everything up to the Minimum Viable Product stage is about discovering and creating new value in a large market. Everything after MVP is about continuous optimization of the value you’ve created and building 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.


You’ve 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. Concept feedback 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. It is mission-critical work, with cash dwindling and the future on the line.


If you have earned your way out of the Immerse and Ideate stage, you have designed a core product concept visionary customers find compelling. Now, as you enter the Minimum Viable Concept stage, it’s time to design a holistic business concept. In other words, you need to confirm that your product idea can be transformed into a viable business. To design a holistic business concept, it’s helpful to turn to the Four-Way Fit canvas. This is the “heads up” motion in action.

Imagine a big whiteboard, filled with Post-it notes. The four domains inside the canvas are broken down further…


I usually write about business stuff.

But every once in a while, I publish a commentary — as I did a year ago, when I published “From Every Corner: Rise, Leaders, Rise” on Medium.com. That article called for people with leadership skills to rise up and help their communities get through the pandemic. As was true then, we are at yet another moment when leaders must rise.

January 6 showed that democracy is not indestructible. It survived — barely. Now it’s on us to bring it back from the edge. To do this, we citizens must hear each other, return…

Tom Mohr

Founder and CEO, CEO Quest

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