Five Rules That Could Help Keep Your Startup Alive - Forbes


Many people start their businesses thinking they are going to make a lot of money — then they don’t. It’s a very dark place when you start to think your company may be failing. And the truth is, most successful entrepreneurs have experienced this time and time again.

There is an endless list of reasons people find themselves in this position, and the fact is, sometimes difficult situations just cannot be avoided. However, there are a few rules you should adopt when you're starting a business before grinding forward. If you adhere to them, they could increase your probability of survival and set the foundation for your success.

1. Figure out how to make your money right now.

You have to think about how you are going to stay afloat and pay yourself. This means providing for your lifestyle and family and making sure the bills and rent are paid. The last thing you want to do is start your business only for it to die slowly due to lack of cash flowing in. Unless you have some serious financial backing, you need to establish your monthly target deal size in order to cover your liabilities. Think about how you’re going to sell enough fast enough to cover your expenses and turn a profit. If you cannot figure out how to get enough cash flow, avoid starting until you do.

2. If you’re in business, you are going to be selling something – don’t kid yourself.

Whether you have a service or a product, you need someone to buy into your idea. A big mistake people often make is to come up with a great idea for a service or product without an executable way to make money from it. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can simply throw money at Google or social media advertising or hire salespeople to get the job done. I can tell you from experience that unless you know how to sell it yourself, no one is going to know how to sell it the way you need them to.

3. Don’t overcomplicate your business model.

If you have figured out where the money is, go after it like a bloodhound. You don’t need to be perfect, and you don’t need to have the perfect business idea. You need a clear route to market so you can focus on execution and getting the job done. Your business will evolve toward its definition of perfection over time, but only if you are still in business. In the early stages of your business, focus on action over perfection. For example, look at some of the larger companies you are familiar with and think about what got them started, not what they have become. You will notice they had one staple product or service that built their brand, enabling them to become the giants they are today.

4. Having no safety net means failure is not an option.

Sometimes having the security of a good job, bank savings and family is what keep you from succeeding. When you start your new business, you will need to jump in all the way — sink or swim, as they say. You must succeed. Don’t think about your exit strategies and forget your backup plan; take on the mindset that failure is not an option.

This is great for people who have no responsibilities, but what about those with spouses and children or other responsibilities? Well, the rule still applies. You should try to create a sense of urgency to succeed. But remember, it’s also important to recognize when you should cut your losses. You need to fully commit to your business by doing more, faster. You need to work with urgency and put everything you've got into your business to make it happen. Remember, it’s persistence that begets success. This drive also helps you meet your company's challenges early on, allowing you to adapt accordingly and keeping you ahead of the game.

5. Think low cost or no cost — pool your resources.

Accountants, lawyers, advisors, friends and family — these are all people you can use to help you on your journey. Some help is paid for, and some is free. In business, you should pool every resource you have to help you get to the next step. This is not simply limited to advice and guidance. You should also think about the resources you have at your fingertips, like free marketing through social media or being able to ask questions on forums to get answers to tricky or complex problems. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get exposure or build your product. Look for ways to optimize the channels you already have.

And finally, when you are facing a situation, problem or challenge, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The answer you are looking for is usually in someone else’s head. The simple act of asking for help can save you a lot of time and money.

These five rules are not intended to be the be-all and end-all, but I feel they can be useful in getting your business up and running with a strong outlook toward success.


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