“It’s not that I’m so smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer.” —Albert Einstein
You can do everything well. You can prepare yourself as a founder,aim for a robust market, design an economically sound businessmodel, move forward with flexibility, and surround yourself withstraightforward truth-tellers. Still, getting your venture safely off theground will likely take more of your time, money, and effort than youexpect. Most great ideas require time to work, and it may take a longseries of sparks to finally create a roaring fire. Just as overnight suc-cesses are often decades in the making, “home run” businesses aremost often due to the accumulation of many swings at the plate,where founding teams persevere over time to seize opportunities thatcouldn’t have been scheduled, or even anticipated, in advance.
Unfortunately, one of the common side effects of falling in lovewith a business idea is the founder’s assumption that success will comequickly and easily. Due to the nearly universal tendency to overproject early sales and under-project costs, the startup runway canevaporate quickly and dangerously. This is the immediate reason whymany ventures fail without ever turning a profit. But it also points toa significant opportunity: Entrepreneurs who do what is necessary tokeep their business alive over time, treating time as a competitive ad-vantage rather than a dwindling resource, can dramatically elevatetheir odds of venture survival and growth.
The first thing we knowabout being successful as an entrepreneur is: If you can make it through the early years, your odds of success will go way up,” writesScott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Re-serve University and author of The Illusions of Entrepreneurship. Shanecites more than twenty studies, showing that, when it comes to newventures, “the odds of your new business failing are highest when youfirst start and decline in relation to the length of time you have beenin business. And it isn’t just the chance of staying alive that increasesover time. The data also show that the average start-up also becomesmore profitable as it gets older.
This final chapter will focus on strategies for strengthening yourventure’s staying power, your ability to keep moving forward. Theforces impacting staying power operate at two levels. The first levelis that of the venture itself, where factors external to you as a founderwill either lengthen your runway or cut it dangerously short. The sec-ond set of forces acts at the personal level, where your ability to per-form with stamina and persevere over time will ultimately determineyour success in building a thriving business over the long haul.