On any given day there’s a lot to think about as a founder. This only increases as a business grows and while you get used to juggling priorities, it gets overwhelming from time to time.

During these periods even the most experienced entrepreneurs will temporarily retire to their ‘safe place’.

If product is your thing, you’re likely to tinker with features.

If you’re a business development ninja, you might retire to LinkedIn to identify new leads.

And if you’re a software engineer, there’s a good chance you’ll have a play with your side project.

These are forms of personal survival, and I’m guilty of all of them. But no matter whether I’m advising a business or helping to grow one, when it comes to surviving growth as a company, three questions are always in the back of my mind.

1. What was our last OODA Loop?

An OODA Loop (observe, orient, decide and act) is a decision cycle designed by US Air Force military strategist, Colonel John Boyd.

Traditionally used by pilots to develop a habit for quickly adjusting to changing flight conditions, this cycle is also useful in two startup contexts.

First, this framework helps growing teams to galvanise around a learning and action orientation. This is particularly useful as growing teams usually consist of people who have different points of view on what action means and how quickly it should happen.

OODA Loops also create a record of learning. These lessons can be shared with new hires and across the company to strengthen culture.

They can also be shared with prospective investors who often use ‘rate of learning’ as one factor to determine investment potential.

2. How else can we extend what we’ve already built?

It’s rare that a business model only has one application. In other words, even if founders have strong conviction around Product A that is designed to serve Customer B, the right perspective from an outsider will more often than not help to unlock an opportunity that can be captured tweaking Product A.

This is how inklpay, one of the businesses I’m developing, had its origin.

It obviously takes time in market to build the initial versions of a product and then have the confidence to leverage what’s already been built. And speaking from experience it’s difficult to see these other opportunities from the get go.

The key takeaway here is to continue engaging with mentors and trusted outsiders as the core product is being built. Keep asking them how else your product can be leveraged

3. How do we communicate wonder?

Products and services that lack a narrative don’t survive. The ones that win embed a sense wonder in their narrative.

If you’re wondering what I mean, think about the last time you said “that’s so cool” in response to a new product experience.

I’ve written about this before and it’s easy to point to Apple as the master of this domain. Their product design and clever reductive language is inspiring. It’s also been perfected over 40 years. It’s never that easy in the beginning and founders agonise over it.

I agonise over it.

And as much as I hate to admit it, communicating wonder takes time. It often relies on how someone outside your organisation describes what you do after they’ve been inspired by your vision. That’s why I often ask people “how would you describe what [company name] does if you had to explain it to a friend at a bar”.

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As Paul Graham once wrote, startup equals growth.

Remember to consciously keep learning, find ways to create more value from what’s been built and fight to communicate wonder. This, and regularly connecting with mentors and founder friends, is the best medicine for growing pains.

Thanks for reading. If you learned something, please feel free to leave a comment.