Startup Truths to Help You Thrive, Not Just Survive
If you are in the habit of reading tech publications like TechCrunch, VentureBeat, or Mashable, you might think that everyone except for you is ‘killing it’ in Startupland. Every day you discover new stories about up-and-coming startups receiving millions of dollars in funding from venture capitalists and angel investors. From peer-to-peer sharing economy startups to the latest hot app for iOS or Android, you’re left with the impression that it is raining cash in the startup world. Rather than succumb to the lure of easy cash and fast exits, you are much better off taking a step back and looking at the hard truths of building a successful, revenue-generating business. Ready?
– First things first. An idea is not a business. Posting your idea on Hacker News or Reddit Startups does not magically change you from wantrepreneur to startup founder. You need to let that concept sink in. Sustainable revenues and month-over-month growth is more indicative of a true business. Unless you have one or both of the above, you might want to readjust your perception of where you are in the life cycle of a startup.
– Another concept many entrepreneurs fail to realize is the importance of building a network early. From early adopters intrigued by your vision to inquisitive tech reporters, it is imperative you make the effort to cultivate relationships early. Press mentions and spikes in traffic are fleeting; it is the early adopters and true believers who will stick with your startup during the hard times. Never overlook the importance of building real, long-lasting relationships with your earliest believers.
– A reality many founders fail to realize until it is too late is the importance of diversifying revenue streams. While you may believe you’ll hit a home run with your initial business concept, you’re likely not the only entrepreneur building a business with that same revenue stream in mind. The more streams you have running into your river, the greater your chances are of reaching the ocean of profitability. When lean times hit or clients fail to pay on time, it is multiple income-generating streams that will keep your business afloat.
– Another concept that doesn’t receive enough mention in the startup press and tech blog sector is the importance of living a well-balanced life. While the common perception is that you have to eat/live/breathe your startup 24/7, the reality is that you’re far better off if you let yourself enjoy the journey. From a great relationship with your parents to a ‘soft place to land’ with a trusted girlfriend/boyfriend, it is imperative you make time in your life for the people who recharge your energy. Not only will you feel recharged each day as you attempt to grow your company, you’ll also have a better grasp on the reality that there are things in life more important than your startup.
Accepting a few hard truths about the realities of building a viable business might feel like you’re squelching your entrepreneurial flame, but you are actually building a stronger foundation. Forego the Twitter accolades and instead focus on building a revenue-positive business. Your sense of well-being will be stronger and your bank account will be fuller. No one said building a business was easy; take it slow, focus on the long-term, and enjoy the journey.