It was a damp, cold day. Sleet was falling like so many needles hitting my skin. I had no desire to even go outside. But I was forced to because I had to run errands, and it was awful.
The day before, however, was stunningly beautiful, sunny and 70°. I rode with the windows down in the car, jamming out to Walk This Way by Aerosmith.
It was springtime in Pennsylvania – which can be volatile. One day it’s frigid and cold the next day can be beautiful and sunny. With 30° temperature swings in between. It’s kind of crazy.
Running a startup can be exactly the same way. One day you can be on the highest of highs, the next day everything can just stop and you have to figure it out again.
It can take a while to get your feet under you, to get enough money to run the business well and to feel like you really know what you’re doing. For most people running a startup, this process takes between 1 to 5 years.
It can be exhilarating, but also terrifying and if you want to survive, then you also must plan.
So what do you do during this time period of volatility? How do you survive being and succeeding in a startup?
Here are five tips that can help you survive startup mode and get into real profit note in your new business.
How to Survive Startup Mode and Get Profitable Fast
1. Keep your “survival” bills minimal.
One of the best ways to succeed in the startup is to keep your overhead as small as possible. Not only in the business, but also in your personal life. Consider a smaller house or apartment, inexpensive entertainment, and keeping the car with a lot of miles on it but that runs and is paid for.
There are likely going to be times when the business can’t pay you. Or when you have to pay other people before you pay yourself. Especially in the beginning. Having super minimal expenses really helps to keep the business running while you learn exactly what you need to do to get into serious profit.
2. Use the power of automation to minimize overhead.
Wherever possible, use automation in your startup. Automation is nearly always less expensive than people. For example, rather than having an elaborate phone system or 24-hour staffing on the phone system, you can get one of the new business systems that run straight into your cell phone, and even transcribe calls for you.
For a super minimal approach, Google voice does this for free. There are tons of other automated systems to use as well. Look at the reviews of those systems as you implement to find the best ones and don’t be afraid to cancel things that don’t work for you.
3. Get client work to smooth out cash flow.
If you can land a few study clients while you’re building the other parts of your enterprise, then you have a steady source of income you can rely on. It puts less pressure on your new business and gives you a place to focus on when the business feels overwhelming.
By having a secondary income stream that you can work around other business activities you will give yourself a great deal of stability that will give you a great chance of making your startup into something amazing.
4. Don’t get arrogant – but stay confident.
Your first taste of success is going to be absolutely exhilarating. It’s so much fun to see the first dollars roll in, and even more fun when the profits start racking up.
But when this happens, it’s also easy to get arrogant. It’s easy to assume that you’ve cracked the code, and know exactly how to make money from there on out. But that’s not always the case.
Before rapidly expanding, I always recommend you duplicate a similar success at least three times. That way you know you get it for sure before adding a lot of overhead.
This will help to keep your confidence levels up because you will keep yourself from overextending, and get some serious successes under your belt.
5. Keep your business overhead low, low, low.
The best entrepreneurs I know assume that they don’t have any capital to work with. They act like they are always bootstrapping the business to success. No matter how much money you’re making at the moment, you want to keep your overhead as low as possible.
To help with this I highly recommend the book Profit First. It’s a super easy guide to making sure that you stay profitable in your business and don’t get into a bad situation. By focusing on Profit you will help you keep your business profitable.
If you’re running a startup or thinking about it, the road will probably be bumpy at least part of the time.
That bumpy road is part of the game and also a huge part of the fun. By keeping your expenses low, and not getting arrogant (but staying confident), you have a great chance at becoming a super successful company.
Now go get it done!