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How To Overcome The First 24 Months In A Start Up

Gautam Sinha
Gautam Sinha
Partner, 
MyFirstCheque
As I put my son through kindergarten I realized that there is some logic to the natural evolution of learning that a human goes through.

A kid spends two years in what is called ‘pre-school’ before starting regular school and these two years are enough to prepare him/her for the tougher academic rigors ahead. Typically learning alphabets, some basic counting, recognizing basic shapes and most importantly getting used to dealing with other kids your age. I call this the A, B, C and D of life (the first four steps).

Similarly when you start a company it is the first 24 months (also called the graveyard years as more than 90 percent of startups collapse during this period) where the basic learning happens (and believe me this is very expensive education) and my attempt today would be to try and give a you perspective on what the A, B, C and D of a “start-ups” life are

The A….. Focus on only one thing

Make sure that you are concentrated on achieving ONE objective in this period.

This looks very easy and obvious but you would be amazed to know that it is very difficult to achieve as most people fall victim in trying to do “too many” things in the first few years and with limited resources this is the “best” way to drive a startup to bankruptcy!

Break this objective further into measuring 1-3 metrics. If it is more than three then do the homework again and make sure that it does not cross 3.

Put them on the board and look at them everyday and end of the day ask yourself the same question, “Did what I do today move me towards my objective or away from it”?

The B……Cultivate the art of “deafness”

Do not spend too much time with people who tell you that you cant do it ! Self doubt is the biggest cancer which can ruin an entrepreneurial journey and it is very important that one can effectively block out the “negatives” and concentrate only on the job at hand.

Every single enterprise which today has come to rule the market started as you have started and when they started they were also told the same thing that you are being told now i.e. you can not do it!

The C… Do not front load “marketing” costs

The length of your “stay” at the start up crease is directly proportional to the amount of “mistakes” that you can make during the first 24 months. This in turn is based on the length of your cash flow.
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