When you first start out, you will find it amazing that anyone will even listen attentively to your idea. Then, someone actually investing money at all in your venture seems extraordinary. When your first revenue comes in, the validation is wonderful. What happens after that? A quick exit and off to have some fun? Perhaps, but many entrepreneurs go through a grind-it-out phase. How you approach this phase will depend on how much you enjoy it and how effective you are at it.
Grinding Out the Numbers
Re-read our chapter on how to hit your numbers.
You should still have your magic sauce with you: the amazing code, the user interface that blows people away, the big secular wave that you are riding, the value proposition that convinces even the deepest cynic to give it a try. All of these are a given. They are what got you to this stage.
But now you are at the stage of 99.9% perspiration and 0.1% inspiration. This is the grind-it-out phase. Everything has to be done right. The details really, really matter. And there are all kinds of details, many of which you find it hard to be interested in.
Back to Basics
At this point it might be worth taking another look at these chapters:
- How to be an effective CEO
- How to hire an A-Team
- How to fire non-performers
- How to hit your numbers
- How to build age-appropriate processes
If you have these bases covered, the rest is all about you. Ever heard the expression "It's lonely at the top"? Now you'll see how true that is. Here are five tips to help:
- Have a good board. You'll need advice from people whom you trust and who know the business.
- Take time to exercise. Schedule it like anything else you do. Exercise gives you more energy and helps you deal with stress.
- Delegate (or fire yourself and find a better CEO). This is not the phase of entrepreneurial startup heroics, when you have to do everything yourself. Re-read what are the only three things a CEO has to do, and do only those things.
- Seek other forms of intellectual stimulation. During the grind-it-out phase, the three golden rules are focus, focus, and focus. But you have a restless intellectual energy: that is why you became an entrepreneur. Don't invent a diversification to satisfy your intellectual curiosity. Learn Sanskrit or hieroglyphics instead. The brain exercise will do you good.
- Re-connect with the people whose pain you are trying to solve. There was a reason you were passionate about this when you got started. Re-connect with that passion. Oh, you were just faking that passion, were you? Then good luck with that!