Are You Keeping a Startup Diary?

Many great scientists and innovators like Darwin, the Wright brothers or Leonardo da Vincikept extensive notebooks and diaries of their insights, their experiments, failures and successes. Many of them also shared those, in the form of letters with peers. This helped them achieve these great breakthroughs. You might wonder: what does this have to do with startups? Well, more than you think!

Entrepreneurship as a science

In the article "From a software idea to an actual business" I argued that people like Steve Blank, Eric Ries and others suggest to run a startup as a series of scientific experiments and that your major goal as a startup or new venture is to gain insight and understanding of the opportunity you are pursuing. A diary is a simple tool to help you document your journey towards a well-understood and validated business model.

The modern equivalent of a diary is, <insert drum roll> a blog. I encourage you as a startup team to keep an internal team blog where you document progress, insights, experiments, successes and failures.

Nothing than benefits

I see nothing but benefits in doing this:

  • You'll experience that you'll gain much more tangible and transferable insights when you force yourself to write down an insight into a 1 or 2 paragraph blog post.
  • A blog post is much more tangible and actionable than an idea in your head.
  • The chronology of a blog allows new team members to quickly get up to speed with your story, and to better understand why your startup is doing the things it is doing now.
  • Since a blog can be accessed online, you can easily yet selectively invite mentors, investors, etc. to follow your progress without them having to be physically there. This is equally true for distributed teams in general.
  • A blog is extremely flexible: by adding categories and tags, you can organize your insights.

Services like Posterous allow you to setup a private group blog in seconds, for free.

Conclusion

Are you documenting your endeavors using an internal blog, or something similar? Do you share your progress, insights and lessons learned with your team, mentors and investors? I'd like to hear from you.