Founders: It is totally often if you get ‘stuck’ in your startup. Most go through this phase and here is presenting a great perspective.
A thread about feeling “stuck” in your startup.. Disclaimers: I’m a funded startup founder / CEO. I’m incredibly privileged. I live in an awesome city I am a knowledge worker. These are high class problems. People dumping on this thread can fuck right off. <Thread>
If you’ve raised >$1M but <$10M, and its taking *longer* than 12 months to hit your stride, something probably hit your startup – co-founder quit, product needed pivot, customers churned, leaky funnel, bad market, health issues, family issues, immigration, anything.
And your startup is still growing 2-5X every year but its not “hot” any more. Your star angels don’t call to check in anymore. Your lead investors barely acknowledge you. You probably burnt more than you raised. You cut your team in half. You made mistakes. You learnt
You’ve lost momentum. You’re unable to go out and raise $$$ without significant friction. BUT… You have 8-12 months of cash in the bank. You’re making money. Almost Cash positive. This phase of operating is not reported in Techcrunch or hyped by VCs. This is the “SLOG”
in the “SLOG” you feel like you’re just treading water. The product needs tweaking, improving, adjusting. The business needs maintaining, building The team needs management and attention Operations need presence and focus. All non-glamorous activities. its a grind, not a sprint
You often flirt with “getting cash positive” and want to “fuck those investors, we’ll control our destiny…” You think about buying back their stock (with what?) You think about selling early, moving on. You feel like quitting Meanwhile, you watch burn / expenses like a hawk.
You still have possibilities ahead of you. The market hasn’t significantly moved. Your competitors are not really trying to crush you. You’re completely under the radar. Make this work for you. Don’t drop your shoulders. Its important to focus on what you can control..
Keep plugging away at the product improvements. Ship code weekly. Talk to customers regularly. Set up mini progress targets and CRUSH THEM. e.g. “Add 1 new customer this week” “Write 1 blog post this week” “Create 1 marketing automation this week” Manage your cash obsessively
Your business isn’t dying. Customers keep coming. You’re not irrelevant. You’re actually trying to build the best version of your business that helps you scale. Use this period to perfect your revenue model, unit economics and learn new things about your market / customer.
“The startup secret to succeeding is to stay alive long enough for a miracle to happen” – Get a health regime – Love your family – Work normal hours – Focus on things you can control – Make your business anti-fragile. – Nurture your team. – Stay committed to long term vision.
Meanwhile – Keep updating your investors reliably, monthly – Send board updates with cautious optimism – Let them see you can *operate* a company – Make your growth predictable, reliable and *boring* – Make short term goals revenue-based – Network constantly – DONT SHUT DOWN.
If your startup doesn’t break out, and shuts down, do it gracefully. If the tweaking and operating gets you to cash positive, you now control your destiny. Keep operating till you can raise $$$ favorably If you can hit a lever, exploit it and try to grow faster to gain momentum
Not every founder can survive a “SLOG” and come out with a Billion Dollar startup. Most YC founders and partners think its a waste of their opportunity cost. Be different. Be Gritty. Be Fucking Awesome. Crush this. <Fin>