As entrepreneurs, the second we decide to bring our companies to life, we take on a responsibility. To keep our businesses alive, no matter what. In the early stages, all sorts of crazy things happen, all in the name of just making it work and surviving to the next day.
Eventually surviving to the next day becomes the next week. Surviving the week becomes the month. Then we start trying to figure out how we are going to make it through the quarter.
For many people who are squarely in the "survive the day" or "survive the week" stage, it's very tempting to put our hopes in finding investors. We see them as saviors who can take away some of the immediate pain and allow us room to breathe, and figure things out.
But this is not what early stage business is. We don't start a business that little to no value, only to take on investment to give us some space to figure things out. It's true, a lot of companies have been able to do this, but I think this is going to change.
If venture funding did not exist at all, would you not start your business?
Investment (of any sort, whether it's credit cards, loans, cash in savings, etc.) when deployed is a tool, not a means, or an end.
Entrepreneurs may be visionary, but we need to think strategically if we want our businesses to survive to the next step. If you weren't pursuing financing and whatever else, what should the founder and CEO of an early stage start-up actually be doing?
There are three things that matter in your company, 1) Your People 2) Your Customers 3) Profit
If you have a good product, and you have your focus keenly on the first two, the third will follow suit. Notice that investors are not anywhere on that list. Neither are tee shirts, beer on tap, ping pong tables, consultants or cool offices. (Not that you can't still have these things...)
After spending almost 6 months dedicated and focused entirely on sales blitzing and growing my business almost 230%, the year after that I was much busier with operations, but we remained vigilant about taking care of customers and doing our absolute best to make sure people were taken care of, and we grew revenue by almost 75% just cultivating our existing customer base and pipeline.