How To: Identify Weaknesses In Your Startup, Then Crush Them!

Weakness Leads To Strength


I am currently in the process of starting a social enterprise called GiveYear.

The mission of GiveYear is to create change agents by harnessing the talents of our nation’s most promising future leaders and provide them with an opportunity to change the world.


Currently, GiveYear is a one man shop. Though the success of my organization rests heavily on my shoulders, that doesn’t mean I am the only one working to make GiveYear a success. I have surrounded myself with a group of mentors, interns, board members and freelancers that help to lighten my load and increase the likelihood of GiveYear’s success.

The only tricky part of surrounding yourself with a solid team is that you must know what the weaknesses in your plan, your team and in you, as well as the options you have to address them. This is where the Startup Weakness Identification & Resolution Canvas (SWIR Canvas), I designed, comes into play.

Startup Strength and Weakness Identification and Resolution Canvas by William Griggs


How To Use The Canvas:

Step 1: List Strengths

Work to list out all the strengths you currently have in your plan, your team and youself. Focus on items you feel give you an edge over your competition, or make you, or your team specifically suited to tackle the problem you are addressing.


Step 2: List Weaknesses

Try and list out all the weaknesses you see in your plan, team and yourself. What keeps you up at night? Where does doubt creep into your mind when talking about your plans? For instance, think about roles you are currently assuming that you don’t have any prior experience tackling.

Work to come up with a comprehensive list of weaknesses. If you are honest, your list of weaknesses will be considerably longer than your list of strengths, especially early on.


Step 3: Classify Weaknesses

When classifying your weaknesses, focus on how you are going to address each weakness. Some weaknesses may be classified using multiple classifications. To make this step easier, I have provided you with a set of classifications that include:

  • – Board Member — Ideally established professionals in their field, these individuals can serve on either your Board of Advisors, or your Board of Directors. Make sure to find people that love what you are doing and are willing to open up their Rolodex to connect you.
  • – Co-Founder — Performing this exercise will help you build out the profile of your ideal co-founder.
  • – Freelancer — Freelancers can play a critical role for your organization, supplying various skills when and where your organization needs them most, regardless of your ability to pay a full-time team member.
  • – Functional Mentor — Functional mentoring occurs between an individual, or team with a specific need and a mentor with the specific skills and expertise to address that need
  • – Intern — The easiest way to find an intern is to contact your local university’s career service office, or post an ad on Craigslist.
  • – Team Member — This classification could be used on weaknesses that you want current team members to address, or on a weakness that can only be addressed by the addition of a team member. Note: A team member is an employee of your organization.
  • – Learn — You can use this classification when you feel you, or someone on your team can learn information that will help you address a weakness. Note: When you arrive at Step 5 you will elaborate on who will learn what.
  • – Other — Every business is unique so I left an “Other” classification to cover needs that are unique to your business.


Step 4: Group Weaknesses

Once you have finished classifying your weaknesses, group them in Step 4. To do this, fill in the classification squares and rewrite the weaknesses you have listed in Step 2, grouping them by classification.


Step 5: Address Weaknesses

Next, figure out how you are going to specifically address each classification of weaknesses. For example, if you have 7 weaknesses marked as “Functional Mentor” ask yourself “who is going to fill this role?” Will it be multiple people? If you don’t know of anyone off the top of your head that can fill this role, put the name of someone you will approach to help you secure this individual.



Performing this exercise is a simple, yet profound way to increase your odds of success. Don’t just take my word for it. Try it for yourself.


Are You Ready?

If so, download the canvas and give it a shot!

Download The SWIR Canvas

Creative Commons License
Startup Weakness Identification & Resolution Canvas by William Griggs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


What Do You Think?

If you have any thoughts, or recommendations regarding the canvas please let me know by leaving a comment below, or by dropping me a note. Any insight, or help would be greatly appreciated!

— William