Thoughts behind creating a Startup Studio playbook

Sharon Klaver
Builders Universe
Published in
6 min readJun 23


As a co-founder, I am frequently asked what sets Builders apart from other startup studios. In my experience, one key element that contributes to our success is the development and implementation of a comprehensive playbook. A playbook serves as a documented guide, enabling us to accelerate our ventures, collaborate effectively, and strategically navigate the challenges along the way.

Establishing Effective Processes

One of my earliest recollections of putting this approach into this practice was when I created a playbook for the funeral businesses that were part of my platform, managing their shops. I wrote a comprehensive manual detailing how they could update their shops with new products, write blog posts, and run promotional campaigns. This playbook not only served as a guide but also functioned as a platform for dialogue — the results could be measured, discussed, and then action plans could be formulated for improvement. To keep it current and useful, I updated this playbook monthly with fresh ideas.

So, my initial foray into creating a playbook was rooted in my belief in structured processes, continuous improvement, and effective goal setting. Given that I function best when things are structured, scheduled, and followed up in a timely manner, I am drawn to establishing effective processes to reach any set goal. This, in my opinion, is akin to writing a chapter, or subchapter, in a playbook.

Whether for personal use or business, I firmly believe that a well-crafted playbook can be a powerful tool in achieving desired outcomes.

The Role of Playbooks in the Startup Studio

Creating a playbook since then has been a deeply-integrated part of my professional life. In the context of a startup studio, a playbook is a comprehensive guide that outlines the strategies, methods, and procedures necessary for launching and scaling a startup. It serves as a practical guide based on proven methodologies and real-world experiences. The purpose of this tool is to provide a framework that promotes effectiveness, efficiency, and scalability, based on prior learnings and successes.

Builders Investor House event

Based on my experience in building multiple B2B SaaS companies, I understand the importance of knowing how to start a new venture optimally and achieve desired results effectively. To address this, we have developed a foundational playbook over 5 years of research, incorporating inputs from partners and core team members. Our playbook outline follows a stage-gate model, providing a structured approach for success while compassing comprehensive details. Let’s go deeper into the specific ways where having a playbook could bring significant value to ensure an effective execution of deliverables and initiatives.

Strategic Operations

For us, the playbook serves as the basis for every new beginning. It is regularly updated to incorporate new learnings and developments, ensuring its relevance in a rapidly evolving business landscape. Keeping up with the pace of change can be challenging, and the playbook can be such a valuable tool for entrepreneurs, providing guidance and best practices. The playbook helps avoid premature scaling by emphasising the importance of focusing on the current stage and meeting defined criteria before progressing, such as through the implementation of a stage-gate model. With a well-structured framework for decision-making, ambiguity is under control, leading to the more effective execution of the venture-building process.

Besides, the playbook goes beyond principles and best practices. It also outlines the key metrics we use to measure our performance. At the heart of our measurement framework is what we call our North Star Metric, a crucial indicator of our startup studio’s success.

The North Star Metric is incorporated into our playbook to serve as a compass, guiding our startup studio towards success. It signifies the growth in revenue of our ventures relative to the time and resources it takes to achieve that growth. It underscores the significance of efficiency and effectiveness in our venture-building process, giving us a clear and quantifiable measure of our performance. By aligning our efforts with this metric, we continuously strive to optimise our performance.

Team Development

Moreover, and no less significant, the playbook enhances collaboration within teams. Firstly, it fosters a shared understanding among the core team, aligning everyone towards the same goals. Secondly, it provides clearly defined goals and deadlines for each phase in the venture-building process, promoting clarity and accountability. It saves time by aligning the team and getting to the core of matters, as it provides a proven foundation to build upon. Ultimately, the playbook becomes an efficient tool that assists the regular check-ins for performance review, enabling early identification of issues and necessary adjustments. This includes assessing how effectively they worked, how well they collaborated, and how they can improve for the next phase.

The playbook utilised wisely would encourage continuous improvement by learning from past experiences and applying insights to the next phase. While it doesn’t dictate every action, it serves as an effective starting point for achieving collective goals.

On Creating an Effective Playbook

Now that you get a hang of what the playbook is about, let me show you the ropes — how to create and maintain an effective playbook for the growth of a startup studio. The most important thing is to start building your ventures first and use the real-world experiences and results as the basis for your playbook. Here are some practical tips:

  1. Start Building: Before you start writing your playbook, begin building your businesses. The insights and learnings from this process will provide valuable content for your playbook.
  2. Outline First: Create an outline or table of contents for your playbook. This will help you structure your thoughts and ensure that you cover all the important areas.
  3. Dedicate Time to Write: Make a commitment to write regularly. I recommend blocking out 4 hours per month in your calendar dedicated to writing. During this time, focus on documenting your experiences, strategies, and lessons learned.
  4. Regular Review and Improvement: Just as important as writing is reviewing and improving what you’ve written. Reserve another 4 hours per month for this task. Use the insights you’ve gained and the results you’ve achieved to refine the content in your playbook.
  5. Iterate: Remember that a playbook is a living document. It should evolve as your businesses grow and as you gain more experience. Always be open to revising and improving your playbook based on new learnings.
  6. Share and Learn: Engage with other studios and entrepreneurs. Sharing insights can provide valuable perspectives that can help improve your playbook.

In essence, a playbook provides the structure, guidance, and common language necessary for a team to effectively execute on their deliverables and initiatives, fostering alignment, accountability, and continuous improvement. In summary, the playbook enables us to measure success of the ventures and maximise our collective impact as a studio.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, our playbook has played a crucial role in guiding our actions, maintaining focus, and helping us overcome challenges to achieve our goals effectively. It provides the necessary structure and tools to measure the success of our ventures and the overall performance of our studio. Unlock the potential of your business by creating your own playbook and setting yourself up for success.

If you’ve made it this far, and you’re still thrilled to take on the SaaS world, you can subscribe to the Builders newsletter here to keep up with our latest thoughts.

Feel free to reach out to me personally, and check the Builders website for more about what we do. I would be happy to to share more about the structure and contents of our playbook, as well as learn about yours. Let’s connect and have an engaging conversation about the power of playbooks in driving success!



Sharon Klaver
Builders Universe

👸🏻🥂 Gets excited about spreadsheets and champagne as Founder, and Managing Director at

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