“We are ready to take off. Fasten your safety belt.”
That is of course, until the plane comes to a screeching halt. New startups have to build their business before they are airborne. However, the startups need to do this before their funding runs out. This funding is the runway and it is always shorter than the founder thinks. It is calculated by dividing the current cash position by the current monthly burn rate.
Extend the runway as much as possible by leveraging the following:
- Create a budget and double it.
- Launch profitable products and sell them to profitable customers.
- Build a service to hone your product.
- Hire judiciously.
- Initially, use subscription services instead of making capital expenditures (e.g. subscribe to software instead of buying it outright).
- Keep on the watch out for the end of the runway.
- Think lean.
Last year, I was working on a business that I was convinced could be bought by a huge media conglomerate. In fact, before I had a business model, funding, prototype or even a single customer, I was ready to sell the business! Needless to say, the business didn’t work out. My passion was focused on the wrong place. And I’m not the only one. Many entrepreneurs I speak to are looking for an exit strategy much earlier than even their entrance strategy.
I read an article by Mark Cuban many months later and the second line struck me:
- Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.
- If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.
Who is Mark Cuban? If you haven’t seen him on Shark Tank, or aren’t a fan of the Dallas Mavericks, just know he a billionaire who built his way up. And, yes, in retrospect, that business I was working on was not an obsession – making it an #entrepreneurfail.
From my experience, here is a checklist of red flags to warn you that you may be too interested in an exit strategy too soon:
- You are more interested in selling the business than in creating what your business needs to sell.
- You haven’t talked to a single customer, but are sure that future owners of the business will.
- You are browsing potential investors of the company, before creating a proof-of-concept yourself.
- You don’t want to learn too much industry knowledge since it won’t be needed after you sell the company.
This post and comic were originally created for www.entrepreneurfail.com