How Do You Keep Your Startup Focused When You’re Just Starting?

I think of all the questions you have when you’re starting out, the biggest question (and worry) you have is are you on the right track? Unless you get instant success, and instant traction and instant growth, your faith is shaken more by are you on the right track than anything else.

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You almost take your market traction for granted:

A. You had an audience.

The hard work had been done already building the audience. But you forget how hard it was. And…

B. You had customers.

When you announced a product, you knew there was a ready audience for your products. But you forget that you are just starting out.

C. When you’re starting out, there’s this belief that your market traction (from the old company) is going to transfer to the new company.

And the reality is no matter how good you are, no matter how knowledgeable you are.

And you just know that your product is going sell really, really well.

The reality is your product probably will not sell that well. And the reality is, whatever your projections are, you’re going to miss them.

That first sale made me realize we were fighting a two front war.

What I mean by fighting a two front war is you’re fighting the war of growing the number of people that know you exist. And you’re fighting the war of growing your revenue.

You need incremental goals while you’re striving to hit your long-term goals.

Let’s say your long-term goal is to get to $1M in yearly revenue (this is probably an intermediate goal in reality). Your longer-term goal is whatever that first big chunk of revenue is for your company.

  • Is it number of subscribers to your email list?

The difficulty of scaling is part of the deal when you are just starting out.

You just need to grind away. That’s what I did, and that’s what you need to do. Grind away.

Make sure you are hitting these incremental goals.

Then you adjust along the way because there are always going to be pivots.

But the pivots can be really small.

But what if you’re not getting any traction?

Now, if it turns out you’re getting no traction. Nothing is going right, and you’re spending a bunch of money. Well, that’s likely the time to think about a major pivot.

  1. Did a competitor come out with a product that makes your product obsolete? Or…
  2. Did the features you thought were going to sell not resonate with customers? Or…
  3. Does your product really do what you thought it would do? But…

Whatever you do, don’t panic.

I remember, early on in our company’s history, revenue was growing and the number of customers was growing. But we were not on the pace we expected to be on.

The challenge, early on, is you don’t have a lot of data.

And a lack of data leads to panic. And panic leads to making bad decisions.

I work with startup CEOs to help them grow their businesses . I built several businesses from $0 to >$100M. Learn more at

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