Are you ready to start working for yourself? A startup is a marathon without a finish line, but if you start out strong and keep yourself hydrated, you’ll stay on your feet and go the distance – take it from someone who has gone a few miles down this metaphor and learned a thing or two.
Coming up with an idea for a one-of-a-kind startup is a magical time, full of energy and ideas. When you’re ready to get it off the ground, you run into a lot of not so magical things, which can be discouraging if you aren’t prepared.
You need a plan, preferably with numbers in it, that sets you up for success. Let me save you some time. Trust me, you’re going to need it.
Make your budget. Then double it.
How much will your space cost, lights and all? Take into account employees and developers, supplies, shipping, insurance, all the nuts and bolts, every bill you’ll have to pay. Then go line by line and multiply by two. If you round up, way, way up, then when the bills finally start coming in, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief. No problem.
Know where your money’s coming from before you spend it.
When your budget’s done, figure out from where that money is going to come. It won’t all come from your business at first. You need capital before you open your doors, whether those doors are real or digital. If you’re in the lurch, you’re desperate, and when you’re desperate, you make bad decisions. Have a plan for when you need cash fast because at some point, you will.
Let someone else do the math.
This one’s important. You need a bookkeeper. Running a successful startup involves complicated math a lot more often than you think, not just tax season. You may get audited, you may need a loan, and it’s best to have someone handling your books from the beginning who can get you the information you need without scrambling. This can be very affordable if you outsource and will save you a lot of headaches in the long run (marathon, remember?).
Sound like the expert you are.
You are going to be talking about your business a lot, out loud and on paper. Your startup has value within a greater market. You know it, but make sure you can put it into words concisely and at the drop of a hat. You also need it on paper – a pitch deck – that is on hand and up-to-date. Your strategy and your merits need to be written in a living document that is always evolving with your business. Once it’s written for the first time, it’s easy to keep it current.
Don’t go it alone.
Now it’s time to forget the marathon metaphor. This is a team sport, and you need a co-captain, someone you trust to step up and tell you when you’re going a little crazy, someone to share the burden of boss-hood. Remember “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”? Don’t let that be you.
While you’re checking off this list, remember how inspired you are and how much fun this is going to be once it’s off the ground. When it starts to feel like your brain is crossed and the tedium will never end, that will be your happy place.