"A cold-eye review" is an engineering term, which for those who know me, is about as far from the way my brain works as possible. That said, when applied to a natural products brand, it is a powerful tool.
Using more emotive language, it is about being passionately dispassionate about your brand and business. Of the many requirements placed on a founder, this might be the hardest. No one I've met started their business or built their brand because it was the linear or logical thing to do. Instead, they did so because they saw a problem they wanted to solve or a need going unmet. It was an emotional decision, and that emotion supports the persistence and perseverance needed to succeed in what is a challenging endeavor.
However, emotion does not always serve you well. It's not helpful when taking a hard look at your business as you attempt to identify if it has the legs needed to support growth. I am going to help you out here. I am going to help you be cold-eyed. Here is a list of thirty critical success factors that I want you to evaluate, rating each as either "yes," "maybe," or "no." Be honest with your answers and as dispassionate and clinical as possible.
1. You're clear about your addressable market.
2. You've proven product/market fit.
3. Your G2M economics are solid.
4. Your business can absorb scale and growth.
5. You are investment-ready.
6. You have a testable/measurable growth hypothesis.
7. You have a compelling investor presentation.
8. You've profiled your ideal investor.
9. You've identified the support needed beyond capital.
10. You have an investor outreach & meeting plan.
11. You've developed in-market experiments to test your assumptions.
12. You have validated those assumptions.
13. You have voice-of-consumer clarity.
14. Your go-to-market strategy is proven and scalable.
15. You have the means to capture insights and learning from the market.
16. You have a detailed sales strategy.
17. You have a developed marketing & P.R. framework.
18. You have a developed trade plan & budget.
19. Your pricing architecture is optimized.
20. You have revenue, distribution, velocity forecasts.
21. The industry is aware of you and your brand.
22. You have the right mentors/advisors alongside you.
23. You have an organizational plan with hiring triggers.
24. You've established organizational culture and mindset.
25. You have the optimal team to absorb growth.
26. You have developed OKRs or KPIs.
27. You hold weekly accountability calls.
28. You have a monthly financial and sales review.
29. You have a quarterly strategy recalibration.
30. You hold pre-call planning meetings.
How do you feel after that exercise? It is a little scary, huh? Now, pat yourself on the back for all of the "yesses." Each will support the growth of your business. Shore up your "maybes" and get to work on your "Noes." Those are the things that can hold you back or bite you at the most inopportune moment. I would encourage you to do this cold-eye review every quarter. In fact, we should make that number 31.
31. YOU DO A COLD-EYE REVIEW EACH QUARTER.