Build it Backwards

There’s this philosophical exercise where you write your own eulogy, then use that as a model of how to live your life. By laying out your life’s goals first, you can better structure your life to reach those goals.

For example, if you want to be remembered as a good parent, reconsider ditching your child’s baseball game for another hour in the office and prioritize your child first. If you want to be remembered as a generous person, give generously to charities and those in need. Etc etc.

The same can be said about a startup.

I believe it was David McClure who I heard say the words, “build it backwards” during some startup conference. He talked about starting with a vision, then going backwards to build the business, the team, the offerings, etc.

That’s not quite the same as a eulogy, of course. Writing a eulogy for a company doesn’t make as much sense as for an individual. Instead, how about writing the About page for your company five, ten, twenty years from now? Or a Wall Street Journal article describing your company’s impact on the industry, your customers, and perhaps the world.

From that page or article, think about the steps needed to get you to that end goal, that vision. Then use that as the high-level steps for building your startup backwards.

And, as an extra bonus, consider writing your own eulogy too. It can be an intriguing and thought-provoking exercise.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.