Her eyes widened and her face clouded over. Anger shadowed her face. She sat straight up and opened her mouth as if she were going to protest my point, then just as quickly as if she had lost the will to fight, her shoulders slumped, and she sat back and let out a heavy sigh.
The truth was taking hold.
The words no business owner wants to hear, “You are still a startup,” made sense to my friend. Truth be told, these words sting when you hear them. I know, because my coach told me the same thing after being in business at the 3-year mark.
I was so mad! How dare she call me a startup? Did she know how hard I had worked to get to where I was (read: nowhere really)?
I tried to defend myself by saying that I had years of work behind me that indicated otherwise. I had plenty of clients who could attest to my expertise. I had earned 6 figures for Pete’s sake!
“Startup” meant I just started, so how could that have been true?
It Was True.
The true indication that you are stuck in Startup Mode is when you are still in the “getting clients” phase of your business. Even though the business will always need you to get clients, the difference between Startup and the next level of business is in Startup your business relies on your getting clients to cover expenses and bills.
Chances are, you are just trying to break even.
What does the next level look like?
At the next level, the business relies on the systems you have put in place that bring in clients routinely. You have consistent cash flow and profitability.
At the next level, you stop scrambling to find clients.
Depending on the literature that you read this can happen when you reach 6-figures or the 7-figure mark. It depends on your business type, structure, and overhead. Sadly, there is no magic number of years, clients, revenue, or “Eureka” moment. This startup phase can last for years. Some businesses never get out of it.
I will tell you like I told my friend: It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is just a part of entrepreneurship.
And it sure as heck beats the Close the Doors Forever Phase.
Getting Beyond Startup Mode
So here’s what knowing about Startup Mode can do for you (and ultimately did for my friend): it tells you where you are and tells you what you need to do to get out of it.
The answer to getting out of Startup is actually quite simple with these 3 steps:
1) Create consistent cash flow by getting clients,
2) Pinpoint the process by which you got the clients,
In my friend’s case she didn’t have a single solid, reliable way to bring in her clientele. She was constantly creating new ways to create leads for herself. Oftentimes she opted for very costly endeavors that tied up her money and time.
By focusing on doing one or two things consistently well it allowed her to get out of being stuck in Startup Mode and moving beyond the Startup Phase.
It’s the same for your business. If you consistently get clients the same way, your business will run smoother. You will have consistent income. You will pay the bills.
My friend was able to take the feedback and run with it. It has made a huge difference to her.
All in all, by realizing she is a Startup, she is getting back to the basics, which are what brought her success in the first place.
The Moral of the Story:
Being a Startup is a part of the business growth process, so learn to trust the process and be willing to stay with it until you figure it out.
What are your thoughts about being called a Startup after a several years in business? How would you feel about being called a Startup—offended, surprised, relieved? How would going back to the basics help you? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
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