StartUp Founders: Take The HotShot Challenge…

November 12, 2023 5 mins read
Header - StartUp To ScaleUp

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.

William Butler Yeats

Dear Reader,

As a Startup Founder, welcome to the ultimate test: If a seasoned titan took your job, what overlooked flaws, obvious failures, and untapped strategies would they reveal? This is the #HotShot test and it’s brutal. (𝕏 Tweet This)

Imagine tomorrow, you’re no longer leading your StartUp, replaced by an industry titan, someone you respect – a hotshot known for efficiency and results. Their mission? To overhaul what you’ve built. They’ll dissect your every misstep, from strategic errors to product failures and customer mis-handlings, leaving no stone unturned. In a matter of days, they audit, scrutinize and document all your shortcomings, preparing to implement radical and immediate improvements.


StartUp Founders: Wars Are Won & Lost At Onboarding – give it the rightful attention, see every single metric move double digits in the right direction.


In a month, the hotshot will present an uncompromising and stark report to your investors: a detailed account of missed opportunities and missteps, paired with a bold roadmap for the future.

This is not an assessment, it’s a blueprint to instill confidence in the new direction. It’s not about bruising egos or casting blame; it’s about bringing light to the truths you’ve avoided, and charting a decisive course of action.

This is the HotShot Test, it f’n sucks, you have to be self aware enough to know you have to do this: a deep dive into self-reflection and brutal honesty.

Challenge every facet of your approach, from the basics to the complex, from your leadership to operations, asking: “Have I prioritized and executed effectively?” This isn’t about seeking validation; it’s a tough exploration of your strategic effectiveness.

An essential part of this evaluation is recognizing what you don’t know. Are you actively expanding your knowledge through reading, networking, and learning or are you treading water, which in the startup world, is akin to sinking. Growth demands constant learning; stagnation is not an option.

This exercise is an empowering call to action, not a mirror to your competence. Step up, critically assess your strategy and your impact. In the ultimate act of confrontation, distill this introspection into a written presentation. If you have the guts.

It’s more than reflection; it’s a roadmap for transformation.

What Would The HotShot Say?

In my assessment of the previous leadership, I’ve encountered troubling insights. The founder’s direction has been alarmingly vague. Strategy remains an unwritten concept lacking in clarity and substance. Customer understanding is cursory at best, devoid of systematic feedback or iteration processes. The product’s trajectory lacks a clear focus on key objectives like acquisition and retention, resulting in a founder led prioritization approach.

Leadership has a conspicuous void where decisive guidance, visionary thinking, and infectious enthusiasm are expected. Customer engagement has devolved into reactive damage control, rather than being a driving force for proactive innovation and growth. There’s a disconcerting lack of defined goals or a coherent path to achieving our revenue and growth targets. This has led to a fundamentally flawed foundation, with cracks that now threaten the stability of our empire.

…Yet, amidst this, lies an exceptional solution with a passionate and visionary founder – a product that customers are clearly seeking, in a market ripe with opportunity and a distinct competitive advantage. Here’s our plan for execution.

This goes beyond criticism. This is a wake-up call, a candid reality check on every overlooked misstep and squandered chance. This is the moment to face these hard truths, to embrace them, and to initiate a profound transformation.

The HotShot’s 30-Day Report: Themes for Evaluation

Prepare for a wake-up call that’s designed to challenge and reveal the full scope of mastery needed for true success in every domain of your business. Everything is up for evaluation, regardless of whether it falls directly within your remit:

  • Strategic Vision and Execution
  • Market Presence and Growth
  • Product and Customer Centricity
  • Operational Excellence and Efficiency
  • Leadership and Team Dynamics
  • Revenue and Sales Channels

Consider expanding this list to include other areas like financial management, reality checks against your metrics, innovation strategies, and competitive landscape analysis. The choice of where to start or what to focus on is yours, but the key is to engage fully and honestly.

Now, take this brutal honesty and turn it into action, this is about velocity (in the right direction) more than it is speed. Identify the most critical areas you need to address and develop a clear, executable plan. Don’t just acknowledge these insights – live them, apply them. What specific steps will you take in the next 30 days to transform these revelations into tangible results?

You are launching Your StartUp 2.0 a bolder, stronger, and more resilient version of your vision, rebuilt on a foundation of hard truths and strategic clarity.

On your journey the fiercest critic (challenger) and the most potent ally (champion) are one and the same – you.

To your unrelenting pursuit of excellence…

— James

(LinkedIn | Twitter | Tiktok)

StartUp Founders: Wars Are Won & Lost At Onboarding Next: StartUp Founders: Have You Lost Your Way?
Join us in inspiring 🚀

StartUp To ScaleUp Newsletter

Where 140k+ founders read my weekly newsletter offering tactical insights to start, scale, and fund their startup. Real advice from a 3x exited founder.