The Breakout Period of a Startup: How to Power Through
Picture this: you are a kid who has a lemonade stand on a chilly morning in the fall. (Go with me guys.)
All the adult neighbors are out walking their dogs (but not stopping). The cars keep driving by (but, at least a couple honked at your cardboard “honk if you love lemonade!” sign!). The 6 cups of lemonade that your mom bought to make you feel better are wearing off, and the video games are calling to you from the living room… It starts to feel like the world is too big, and doesn’t have time for you and your small stand.
Then…as afternoon comes on…summer makes a comeback. The temperature rises, the baseball team at the park down the street gets done with their game, releasing a wave of bored, overheated, and thirsty parents. All the sudden you start to actually have a little fun. And sell some lemonade too.
Any of this sound familiar?
If you are honest, probably only the first part sounded like something you could relate to. Every startup starts with a spark, the new idea, the passion to go out and just do it! The problem is, a disproportionately high number of those same startups die within six months when the spark didn’t fan directly into flame like you thought it would. This, my friends, is the breakout period. It is that period where you fake it until you make it, creating processes as you go until one day you finally break out onto the world stage! It is that make-or-break period where you decide how badly you really want this. Are you willing to sit out in the morning chill, so the parents on their way to that baseball game see you, and make a mental note for after the game? Or will you give in, close up shop, and go inside before that game gets out and you are inundated with thirsty parents? What would happen if one of the more tech-savvy parents tweets about your stand? The neighbor three houses down sees it and comes out to check it out. She ends up live streaming on Facebook. Suddenly you are a viral hit, and there is a line down the street and around the corner! All because you stuck it out.
The point I am making here is not to slow down because you never know what is around the corner. Keep moving forward. Eventually, it will start to get traction. Don’t get discouraged so soon! Drag your cardboard sign down the street, and hit up those bleachers! Ok, ok, so I am taking the analogy too far, but you get the point. During this breakout period, while you are struggling to get off the ground, you have to keep taking steps, and really put it all out there.
Hear this; your startup is not a failure if it hasn’t taken off in only a couple of months. It is entirely too soon to tell! And you aren’t a quitter – you know that, and I know that. Keep the hustle, learn a little more every day, built it from the ground up one brick at a time, and sooner or later you will turn around and be shocked at how high up you are. And that day feels awesome! Be patient though. Building your business takes time and consistency. There is no shortcut to a well-built business, but there are endless possibilities if you don’t quit!
So how do you power through?
Well, each business is as unique as the person who started it. So ultimately there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Find what works for your brain. However, there are a couple of things you can do, to keep pace during that period right after the launch but before the meteoric rise to glory you’ve been waiting for.
The first thing you can try is to make lots of lists. Keep a running to-do list, as well as a long-term open projects list. You might try listing what does and doesn’t work. This saves you from repeating yourself or doing something very similar to what isn’t already working. Try using an online calendar, (or if you are old-school like me, a physical planner) to keep yourself on task. Deadlines are your friends. They keep you moving forward. They also get you into a routine, (we like routines.)
Make lots of goals, big and small. And mark the calendar when you achieve them. You will know your business is starting to take off when those goals start happening closer together.
Did you have a moment where you felt like suddenly the sun came out? If so, what was the key for you? Feel free to drop a blurb about your experience in the comments
Written by Emily Dominguez