Why Startup take long time to succeed in the journey?
11th, December 2018 - Startup community
Starting you own Startup is easy and exciting . But, turning your Startup into real business requires lot of time and energy. So the question is how much time does it take to make a successful Startup?
This is the very commons question we hear in the Startup ecosystem. The quick answer is it depend upon the founder, market, customer and entire ecosystem. But on an average it takes at least 4 years just to get pointed toward a real business, and I’d argue it takes 8-10 years (check the stories if Inmobi, facebook etc)to make your Startup truly the success that you had in mind when that idea came to you.
After observing the entire Startup ecosystem and part of some Startups, I noticed a very consistent pattern in how those years come together which I’d like to share with you.
YEAR ONE – EVERYTHING IS A WIN (most of the cases)
The moment you start your company you’ve got dozens of easy, obvious victories to celebrate.
You incorporated – Yay!
You launched the website – Yes!
You got some press about your launch – Yes and time to celebrate in the circle!
You get you initial customer – Whew... You are On and happy to receive first payment!
The initial days of Startup is full of joys, connected with lot of emotion which connect with tiny victories that make you feel like you are successful. But after two month and you bank account balance does not improve to pay the salaries and expenditure, you feel the real world of Startup.
Assume that nothing in Year One tells you anything definitive. It just tells you that you’re off to great start. It’s like getting straight A’s in your high school.
It doesn’t mean you’re getting into top schools, it just means you had a good first year.
YEAR TWO – UM, WHERE’S THE MONEY?
In Second year you feel uncomfortable with your cash flow and Year One Party turn into a bit of a hangover.
First, whatever savings you had put aside to get launched are exhausted. That one credit card you never thought you’d use is now maxed. Your friends and family initially hesitant to help in terms of miney thinking that you fail in the new business. That one month that felt like things were going to turn around – well, it was just that one month.
You’re realizing that launching a business isn’t the same as validating one. Getting early customers to sign up doesn’t mean you’ve got long term customers—or paying ones at that. It just means someone happened to walk into your store and buy something.
Year Two is you begin worrying about whether or not you made the right decision.
You start going into real debt. You start seriously questioning yourself. This is the part people are talking about when they say “starting a company is hard.”
The only thing you can do in Year Two is turn your anxiety toward achieving micro milestones and chipping away at growth day in and day out. Looking for some sweeping notion that “everything will be great” is a waste of time at this point. This is called the Grind Mode.
YEAR THREE – SURVIVEL TIME
By Year Three, the pixie dust has worn off. The excitement you once felt for starting something has transformed into anxiety about whether or not you have made the right career decision.
You spend a lot of time questioning things. You will be in dilemma on you own decision.
What’s happening in Year Three is that you’ve had a couple years to validate your idea. How you respond to this validation though is the key, and if you read nothing else in this, please focus on this part.
1. It’s nearly impossible to have had a runaway success by this point. If you’re still struggling to break even that’s about where you’re supposed to be.
2. The part where you build a real business that’s healthy and profitable is probably a couple years away. Or it may be never. But it’s likely still not now, and that’s hard to digest.
3. This is where you ask yourself if you can go at this pace for another 2-3 years. At this point you know exactly what you’re signing up for. You know the commitment first hand. If it doesn’t feel like it’s something worth pursuing, now is a good time to bail.
4. No one knows if what you’re doing will be successful going forward, so don’t put too much emphasis on what other people are telling you.
At this point it’s not about running a Startup, it’s about preparing to run an on-going business in growth stage. You have to make the call as to whether or not this is the job you signed up for.
Many Start-ups shut their door in Year Three due to lack of market, cash flow issues, product failure etc. But those who see Year Four, they are going to make it to see the success and grow to next level.
YEAR FOUR AND BEYOND – WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS
If you go through the back stories of most of the companies, you’ll find that they typically ran in general obscurity for many years until one day they started finding out that what they had was worth something.
If you’re unsure about that, read the story of Zerodha, BYJUs or Eventifier. These are some of the smartest entrepreneurs you’ll ever meet, and it took them many months / years just to find their footing. That’s normal. The entrepreneur who creates a mobile app that is wildly popular overnight? It’s a miracle story, not a success story. Don’t ever use that as a guide.
The reason most companies don’t find their footing until Year Four and beyond is because it takes that long before every aspect of the business has been refined – customer acquisition, product development, brand message, management team, unit economics – the list goes on. All of these things take lots of iterations to get right, and that just takes time. That last three years of hell? That’s what it takes (if not longer) to get those things refined to begin running a real company.
WOW, THAT SOUNDS HARD
It is. No sugar coating here.
Building a Startup isn’t an exercise in building a company—it’s an emotional marathon that happens to revolve around business milestones.
While you’re surely going to have to have the insight and decision making to be able to build a great company, it really comes down to the emotional fortitude to see it through. Just remember that it takes a long time.
There’s no shortcut and that’s OK.
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