STOPS – Simple Task and Objective Planning for Startups by Drexel University

First-time entrepreneurs, especially those in college, usually do not understand the significance of task and time management, which inhibits their ability to get started and stay organized. While platforms such as Asana, Trello, and Jira are invaluable to ensuring that entrepreneurs manage tasks, none are equipped to tell entrepreneurs how to start and begin organizing their work approach. This problem can be solved with a tool I created called STOPS – Simple Task and Objective Planning for Startups. It is not meant to replace more advanced project management solutions; instead, it’s intended to fill a gap in the front end of the entrepreneurial process, helping entrepreneurs better understand how to get started using a structured task and time category system. Session attendees will learn how to use this tool and will be provided with a free copy for use in their center.

Presented by Chuck Sacco

  • Problem: First-time entrepreneurs don’t understand the importance of task and time management
    • Inhibits their ability to get started and stay organized
  • Ask the audience: What do your students use?
    • Google Docs, Notion, Trello, Slack, Airtable, SmartSheet, GroupMe
  • Solution: STOPS = Simple Task and Objective Planning for Startups
    • It’s intended to fill a gap in the front end of the entrepreneurial process, helping entrepreneurs understand how to get started
  • Vital Mentorship to Help Them Get Started
    • It’s a mentoring tool to be used in mentor/mentee interaction
    • Sit down with a student who seems dedicated to a new idea
  • Mentor asks for four high level pieces of information to help frame their thinking about their startup
    • 1) Mission
      • WHAT are they doing and WHAT impact do they want to have?
    • 2) Vision
      • WHERE are they heading?
    • 3) Why
      • WHY are they doing what they’re doing? – Simon Sinek
    • 4) Goals
      • Several high-level 1 year goals
      • What would you have liked to achieve if we are meeting in 1 year from today?
    • Pro tip: this is not a one and done
    • This is 1 sheet on the spreadsheet tool
  • 2nd sheet
  • Help them organize their thinking
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: Asking questions in these 4 buckets to organize their thinking
  • Mentor asks the entrepreneur to consider 4 categories that will help them organize their efforts
    • 1) Product & Service
      • What are you building and selling
      • High-level strategy definitions
    • 2) Market & Customer
      • Customer discovery, market research, competitor analysis, and more
      • Task list
    • 3) Team & Company
      • Structure to make it happen
      • Task list – formation, paperwork, 
    • 4) Investment and Critical Resources
      • What’s the fuel to make it happen
      • Task list – pitch development, business plan, investment
  • 3rd part
  • Inputs/Output
  • Mentor/mentee co-develop the plan as you get started
    • Tool has a starter set of tasks
    • Co-developing the task plan allows the mentor to guide and help prioritize the entrepreneur’s early efforts
    • Automated feature pulls data from each category tab and provides a summary of date-driven milestone
      • This week
      • 30 day milestones
      • 90 day milestones
    • Mentor/Mentee Tips
      • Advise the entrepreneur that they will be working on tasks in each category each day
        • You’ve got these 4 categories and every day you will be working in them
        • Don’t only focus on the fun 1 and neglect 1-3 others
        • Do allocate your energy management
      • Ask the entrepreneur to write down the tasks they are currently working on or have planned in each area
        • Importance – organization of thought
        • Granularity
      • Challenge the entrepreneur by asking them which category is most important or what category would they work on if they have essential priorities in each to accomplish
        • Importance – get ent to think critically about effectively managing themselves and their team
      • Ongoing mentor/mentee review is critical
        • Not a skill that they have natively
    • Future
      • More comprehensive starting items

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