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Lukas Mauser
Lukas Mauser

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How to Stay Focused - Zero to Startup Ep 7

Prioritizing tasks is one of the hardest jobs when starting a startup.

There are dozens of things you can work on and it's your job to find the ones that move the needle.

In this episode, I want to introduce you to our simple framework, that we came up with to stay focused on our goals, after 6 months of working on our docker hosting startup.

The series

We are two passionate developers from Germany on a journey to building our own profitable SaaS startup from scratch. In this series I will share everything we learn along the way, from coming up with the idea, coding a prototype, getting our first users and scaling to infinity. We are starting from absolutely nothing but our coding skills. We will not rely on any external funding. We are Lukas Mauser and Jonas Scholz and this is Zero to Startup.

Stay messy as long as you can

In the beginning everything started out pretty messy. We did not write anything down and just started coding based on a basic idea for our product.

Every now and then we tried introducing project management tools, track metrics with Excel sheets and tried introducing regular meetings.

But all of this just felt like some major and boring additional effort to keep up. And since our startup is still a side project at this point, other responsibilities were constantly crossing our plans. At some point we kept falling back to messiness.

And that's fine. These super tidy organizational frameworks are needed to guide big teams. But if you work alone or in a group of two, it might be overkill already.

Sure, there are other benefits.. you can go back and do time estimates and whatever... but we prioritize speed here. As long as we move into the right direction, going without the additional documentation duties and not having 2 hour meetings over every tiny little problem simply boosted our productivity.

When it makes sense to use an organizational framework

At some point though, we ran into the situation of not knowing what to do next. Everything we did, not really felt like progress. For some time we drifted around without a plan and a clear path ahead of us.

We needed to introduce some guidance. We needed a process to point us in the right direction and assure us, that what we were doing was the right thing to do.

So we tried another time, and so far, the process stuck with us.

Our simple process to stay focused

The process is really simple and we did not reinvent the wheel here.

We started with choosing only one primary metric that we want to focus on. The famous startup accelerator Y-Combinator recommends most companies to track revenue. We use a different metric, but more on that in the next episode...

Every week, we write down our primary metric into an Excel sheet. After writing the first zero we quickly realized that we needed more insight. So we added supporting metrics.

The important thing is, that we only introduce new metrics as we need to and only introduce them one at the time. This ensures our tracking efforts stay at a minimum and we always know why we track a certain metric.

Seeing these numbers week after week gives a sense of progress and we can quickly identify where we need to put our priorities.

In the second part of the process we try to come up with one single task, that we need to work on in the upcoming week, in order to move the needle on our primary metric or supporting metrics.

Again, it's crucial for the process, that it is only one single primary task. Maybe we manage to do more during the week, but we can not do less! And often times, even following up on one single task is not as easy as it sounds...


Staying focused is hard. And so is coming up with an organizational framework that helps to stay focused.

What worked for us is embracing messiness and going without a process as long as we could. That way we did not waste too much time with documentation and kept motivation and productivity high to kick off our project.

We only introduced some management guidelines ones we felt like we really needed to. Our process consists of two steps:

  1. Write down most important KPIs every week
  2. Figure out a single task for the next week, to influence them

In the next episode I want to talk about what metrics we chose for our hosting company, why chose it and how we derive actionable tasks from looking at these numbers.

โ„น๏ธ Additional notes

Feel free to comment or get in touch with us to talk about any topics you are interested in or questions you have about the project in general.

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