What is a startup strategy framework?

HERE, THERE, and NEXT is a simple startup strategy framework. The most important thing to be successful in an early-stage startup is to be committed to taking action. Action translates time into tasks that create forward momentum. HERE, THERE, and NEXT is a simple startup strategy framework for turning tactical actions into progress toward a strategic objective.

Figure 1 – Startup Strategy Framework – Here, There & Next

Start with THERE

THERE is the aspirational vision of where your startup will be in the future. Your THERE is the mountain top that you want to conquer. Founders of the most disruptive ideas tend to have a vision for where the market is going. Think BIG, be bold, be daring, and set out to conquer the world. You will want to be clear on your THERE.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra

Founders are well-advised to spend some time reflecting on where they want to be. There are many tools for shaping your vision, like Harold Camron’s Vivid Vision. However, before starting, take the time to get as clear as you can on your Startups place in the future. You will want to have as clear a vision as possible for where you are going.

Get grounded in the HERE and NOW

The second step in the startup strategy framework is to get ground in the HERE and now. While it is great to have a grand vision of where you want to be, it is also essential to be grounded in reality. Remember you are thinking about getting to base camp, and that mountain peak is well off in the distance. However, don’t be deterred; every journey starts with the first step. It is crucial to have a realistic understanding of where you are and where you want to be.

Assess the skills and talents of your team (if you have one). Next, be sure to understand the constraints on your startup. For most early-stage startups, there are some severe constraints. You will have limitations on the team, time, and cash. Therefore since most resources are in short supply, you need to spend them wisely. Finally, take the time to understand your customers. Customer knowledge is an intellectual asset leveraged into a startup superpower.

What’s NEXT?

What’s NEXT is the third step in the startup strategy framework. The action starts by setting a goal. A good guideline for a “What’s NEXT” project is what you think you can accomplish in the NEXT ninety (90) days. A quarter is a good benchmark for setting a SMART and HARD short to mid-term goal. Once you have decided on that first goal, it is time to put your head down and get to work. Action leads to progress through the work you do every day.


You need to know three things to start implementing your idea;

THERE – Destination (where you want to be)
HERE – Current situation
NEXT – A goal that moves you closer to THERE

Here, there and NEXT is a simple startup strategy framework. When you know where you are, where you want to be, and what’s next, you have all the coordinates you need to start taking action. Set a 90-day objective (NEXT) that aligns with your destination (THERE) and turns your efforts into progress. However, the most important thing is to start taking action.

Ian Paul Graham