For The Startup Playbook, David S. Kidder spent time interviewing some of the most high profile and most successful entrepreneurs of our time. Working with combined insight from Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla Motors), Chris Anderson (TED) and Sara Blakely (Spanx), to name a few, he crafted an easy to read game plan that is a must read for any aspiring entrepreneur.

[[quote: "You have to firstly be brutally honest with yourself.", pos:right]]

“There are 5 lenses to put on life as an entrepreneur. You have to firstly be brutally honest with yourself. And the reality is that very few ideas pass all of these lenses. Energy and time are valued the same. Discover the truth about our purpose, validate your idea quickly, ask yourself, ‘why am I struggling?’ 

Here are the five key lenses Kidder tells us to put on life as an entrepreneur. 

  1. Play to your strengths, don’t chase market ‘whitespaces.’
  2. Optionality is the enemy. Ruthlessly focus on your biggest ideas. - Having too many options dilutes the attention, resources, focus and discipline it takes to learn how to prosper in a market.
  3. Build painkillers, not vitamins. If you can’t describe your company’s value as a painkiller then I recommend you redefine your business thesis.
  4. 10x versus 1x. Do not be incrementally better than your competition. Be ten times better. Ask yourself what is the value of your core asset?
  5. Be a monopolist.

The interview ended with Kidder passing along one final piece of advice for starters: The hardest part of building something is not the struggle, it’s not the hundreds of hours you put in, it’s the crushing disappointment of realizing that the idea you thought would change the world is going to fail.

“Distill between hope and reality. Put your idea under these five lenses.”