What’s your death date?

Do you know when you are going to die? To most of us, the answer is no (unless you’ve been to the crossroads like Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison).

For startups the answer needs to be yes.

A startup has one foot in the grave the day it is born — and it stays that way until it graduates to becoming a business or the other foot drops.

At the startup stage a precise death date is easy to figure out: Take what’s in the bank, what’s coming into the bank, and subtract what’s leaving the bank. That gives a simple runway and when the runway runs out, so does the startup.

Personally, I like to share this date with the entire team for 2 simple reasons: (1) It level-sets to where/what we are as a group. (2) It (should) motivate the team to focus on the most important/impactful things.

No one in a startup should be surprised if things don’t go as expected. A death date brings unbelievable and ruthless focus — also known as the discipline a startup needs.